The King's Grace

by Anne Easter Smith

Reviewed by Margaret Donsbach

The King's Grace by Anne Easter Smith In her Author's Note to The King's Grace, Anne Easter Smith quotes from the only existing historical reference to Grace Plantagenet: "Maistres Grace, a bastard dowghter of Kyng Edwarde," one of just four mourners on the funeral barge of Elizabeth Woodville, who had been Edward IV's queen. From this tantalizing hint, Smith has spun a novel about a mostly fictional woman during the early years of Henry VII's reign.

Grace is an engaging heroine, a neglected girl starved for affection and doting on her Yorkist cousin John. Most of The King's Grace concerns her relationship with Elizabeth Woodville. Smith paints a sympathetic portrait of the disgraced former queen, a flawed woman who nevertheless takes in her husband's illegitimate daughter and treats her with motherly affection. In Elizabeth's family, Grace joins a web of complicated relationships, tense with divided loyalties. Elizabeth schemes to wed her eldest daughter to King Henry even as she pines for her lost sons, the "Princes in the Tower," uncertain whether they are living or dead, unable to speak openly of them lest she be condemned for treason.

Smith proposes a clever theory about the identity of Perkin Warbeck, whose attempt to gain the throne by claiming to be the younger of the two princes is foreshadowed from the opening chapter. Not until 400 or so pages into The King's Grace, however, does Warbeck become a major player. Smith has a leisurely writing style, full of descriptions and digressions, and the novel is not really about Warbeck so much as it is about the life of a woman on the fringes of Henry VII's court during the uncertain early years of this first Tudor king's reign. (2009, 594 pages, including an Author's Note, Glossary and Bibliography)

More about The King's Grace from Powell's Books

Novels about Perkin Warbeck:

The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley(1830). More info

The Courts of Illusion by Rosemary Hawley Jarman (1983). More info

They Have Their Dreams by Philip Lindsay (1956; also titled A Princely Knave). More info

Nonfiction about Perkin Warbeck:

The Perkin Warbeck Conspiracy by Ian Arthurson (1994). More info

The Perfect Prince: The Mystery of Perkin Warbeck and His Quest for the Throne of England by Ann Wroe (2004). More info


"Perkin Warbeck" at the British Channel 4 History website

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