A Rose for the Crown: A Novel by Anne Easter SmithA Rose for the Crown: A Novel by Anne Easter Smith

A Rose for the Crown: A Novel

byAnne Easter Smith

Paperback | March 14, 2006

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AN UNFORGETTABLE HEROINE,
A KING MISUNDERSTOOD BY HISTORY,
A LOVE STORY THAT HAS NEVER BEEN TOLD

In A Rose for the Crown, we meet one of history's alleged villains through the eyes of a captivating new heroine -- the woman who was the mother of his illegitimate children, a woman who loved him for who he really was, no matter what the cost to herself.

As Kate Haute moves from her peasant roots to the luxurious palaces of England, her path is inextricably intertwined with that of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III. Although they could never marry, their young passion grows into a love that sustains them through war, personal tragedy, and the dangerous heights of political triumph.

Anne Easter Smith's impeccable research provides the backbone of an engrossing and vibrant debut from a major new historical novelist.
Title:A Rose for the Crown: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:672 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 1.7 inPublished:March 14, 2006Publisher:TouchstoneLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0743276876

ISBN - 13:9780743276870

Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Okay I love historical fiction that takes place in England. A ROSE FOR THE CROWN is rich in details, intriguing characters and in-depth research. It was an intriguing story about a country woman who finds herself in the arms of an infamous king. I truly felt as though I were stepping back in time. But why I gave it only a 3 star rating is...it could have been a lot shorter (almost 700 pgs) and towards the end it got to be a little boring to read. I am not sorry I read the book, I did enjoy it. And I would recommend it to any fan of the War of the Roses.
Date published: 2018-08-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A different Richard the Third This book is a refreshing take on the story of Richard the Third, portrayed as a hunchback and murderer by Shakespeare. Anne Easter Smith paints an entirely different portrait, an upright man who is loyal and not grasping after power. This is mainly the story of his mistress and true love, but it also gives us a picture of all the main historical figures of the time at the English court. I did find it a bit long, perhaps a bit more editing would have helped, but it was well written and enjoyable to read.
Date published: 2017-01-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Eight Bookcases Check out my review of Anne Easter Smith's work on my blog at: http://8bookcases.blogspot.ca/2012/04/rose-for-crown-by-anne-easter-smith.html
Date published: 2012-04-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Don't think I'll go for her again... The story of King Richard III, last of the Plantagenet kings. Or more accurately, the imagined life of his mysterious mistress. I liked it because the characters were lifelike and very believable, however she was a little long winded. I read up on Richard the III, and most of the events in the book and the timeline are historically accurate, which I quite like. The only real fiction was the name and appearance of his paramour. Historically, no one refutes the fact that King Richard had at least one mistress as he publicly acknowledged two illegitimate children, while a third claimed parentage shortly before his death. The big question is more who was this mysterious woman, and Ann Easter Smith plays off this and spins a wonderful story around the known facts and supposed maybes. While a good read, it was a bit on the heavy side so I'm not sure if I'll pick her up again anytime soon.
Date published: 2011-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from BEAUTIFUL! This book truly touched my heart. Anne Easter Smith integrates the reader into the characters and historical figures world flawlessly. I am not a big reader of historical fiction, but this book is special.
Date published: 2009-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Marvelous A beautiful story brought to life with such vigour. Mrs. Smith managed to make the novel almost feel like a movie - she draws you in to a colourful, detailed world where you are surrounded by her characters. I literally could not put it down. Even though I knew the end result, I didn't know HOW the story would end. It was marvelous.
Date published: 2006-08-25

Read from the Book

Prologue London, 1491 Traitors!" shrieked an old crone from the midst of a large crowd swarming around the base of the crude platform in the Smithfield marketplace. Her voice joined the cacophony of cries of those selling pies, ale and trinkets; of neighbors hailing neighbors; and here and there coarse, lewd laughter. Every now and again, an agonized scream emanated from the scaffold, followed by wild cheers from hundreds of leering faces. Acrid smoke hung like a stifling mantle over the square. Half hidden on a stone ledge behind an abutment, a widow shielded her eyes from the scene. "Is it finished, my son?" she whispered to the young man next to her. The stench overpowered her -- a sickening mix of burnt flesh, spilled blood, singed hair and hundreds of sweaty, unwashed bodies. It was like nothing she had ever smelled, and her stomach heaved. Her son, who was less squeamish, stood on tiptoe and stared in fascinated horror at the grisly spectacle. "Nay, Mother. There is one more nearing the scaffold." He turned his head to look at her, his chestnut hair a mirror of what hers once had been, and saw her pain. "I should take you from this place," he said with concern. "'Tis not seemly that you bear witness to such cruelty. Why are we here?" "How is the last one, Dickon? Is he young? Do they call his name?" He did not have a chance to answer. "Death to the traitor! Death to the traitorous bastard!" shouted a man at the front of the crowd. "Why, 'tis Richard's bastard. 'Tis John of Gloucester. Why were we not told?" a large man called to the captain in charge of the prisoners. The soldier shrugged and turned away. "A king's son should have a private execution. 'Tis customary," the man grumbled. A moment of silence followed as the surprising information was passed back. Many in the crowd were puzzled. They had no quarrel with John. They had come to witness the death of three men accused of treason. King Henry seemed bent on purging his kingdom of anyone he believed a threat to him. "What treason has John committed?" asked another man. "And who saw the trial?" Silence. "Too close to Richard for comfort," yelled a woman near the widow, and many laughed, relieved to have the tension broken. But the onlookers were no longer concerned with past transgressions, only with present consequences. They had come to see three men dispatched by the most grisly method of execution: hanged until almost dead, taken down, their entrails ripped from them and burned, and finally hacked into quarters. The heads would be set upon London gate, a warning to all prospective traitors. That one of these condemned turned out to be royal -- albeit a bastard -- was all the more titillating. Out for blood, the crowd's hush gave way to howls of derision for the third prisoner. Surging forward, it met a wall of soldiers, who kept them from tearing the calm, dark-haired man to pieces before the hangman and disemboweler could do their work. The son of dead King Richard was given the last rites at the base of the scaffold, a few paces from the drawn and quartered remains of another so-called traitor to Henry, the new king. He mounted the stairs and was led forward on the platform to the last noose. The crowd pelted him with clods of earth, rotten vegetables and the occasional stone until the hangman held up his hand for it all to stop. John looked out on the expectant faces in front of him and acknowledged the hate in them. A mere eight years earlier, these same faces were smiling and cheering at him and the brightly colored cavalcade on its way to his father's coronation. Now they stared at him, anticipating a cry for mercy or an admission of treachery. He was searching the crowd in vain for one friendly face when something made him look at a woman standing on a low ledge, her hand tightly entwined with that of a young man with chestnut hair. Her hood had fallen back, revealing a sad face with tired eyes. The ugly masses melted into memories of long ago: a fire-lit solar where a voice like an angel lulled him with a song about knights, ladies and love; tawny eyes anxiously watching him sweat out a childish fever in her luxurious tester bed; warm arms holding his six-year-old body close on a summer day when the air was filled with farewells; and more recently, a touch of her hand briefly through the prison grille when she had come for the last time. "Mother!" The single word came as a groan, and shameless tears welled. The woman heard his cry and reached out her hand to him, not heeding the danger. He averted his eyes, afraid of implicating her. "He cries for his mother, the baby!" shouted one of King Henry's plants in the throng, eliciting more cruel guffaws from those near him. A few in the crowd turned to stare curiously at the woman in the black cloak. She instantly let her arm drop. It was as though she had heard a silent plea from the prisoner, and before the crowd's interest became a threat, she got down from her ledge and, still clutching the young man's hand, ran down an alley away from the smell, the jeers and those haunting gray-blue eyes. When she was away from the sight and sound of the scene, she stopped to take a breath, tears streaming down her face. Dickon stared at her. The errant wisps of hair around her widow's wimple were white, and her forty-year-old face was lined with suffering. She who had looked after him now needed his care. His mother was growing old. "Mother, why are you so distressed? Why did we have to attend?" he asked again, taking her shoulders and giving them a gentle shake. She looked full into his eyes. "Because he is my son." Dickon's jaw went slack. "Your son? But...I do not understand. I am your son!" His strong chin jutted forward, reminding her so much of his father that she choked. He took her arm. "The air has addled your wits. Come, sit down, and I will find you refreshment." Dickon led her to a stone bench in deserted Cheapside. With no one to stop them, dogs roamed in and out of open doors, mangy cats ranged rubbish heaps looking for scraps, and a rat scuttled across the street. The sun glinted off the puddles of sewage all along the wide thoroughfare. There can be no greater grief than a mother's, the woman thought, her head in her hands, remembering, too, the death of her daughter from the sweating sickness not six years since. And such a death as this...Her sobs came harder. "Dear God, I pray you took him quickly!" she called to the heavens, as Dickon stood by, perplexed. She looked down at the whitened skin at the base of one of her fingers and prayed that the missing ring had bought John death by strangulation from the hangman before the disemboweler did his work. Ah, Richard! I hope with all my heart your precious gift has helped our son heavenward with little pain. Of all its uses, this must be the crown. After a while, the woman allowed herself to be led, as if in a trance, the short distance to where the Cheap Cross marked the entrance to the Mermaid Inn. Once through the courtyard and in the safety of their chamber, Dickon washed her face and hands and made her lie on the bed to rest. "Please try and sleep, Mother. I will be out in the courtyard if you need me." "Nay, Dickon. I pray you, do not leave me!" Her tone was urgent and her eyes implored him to stay. "There is much I must tell you, and now is a good time. I cannot bear to be alone. Come and sit by me, my son." She patted the bed and took his hand, already calloused from stoneworking. She held it to her cheek. "John of Gloucester is...was my son." She saw the disbelief in his look. "Aye, he was your brother. Bear with me, Dickon, and I will tell you all." She tore her eyes from his troubled face and looked towards the window, not knowing where to start, her thoughts still with the scene at Smithfield. She knew she owed him the truth after all this time. Dickon stroked her hair, hating to see the tears that flowed unheeded down her cheeks. Why was he surprised? His mother had suddenly come to claim him when he was thirteen, a little time after the new King Henry had taken the throne. Until then he had believed she was his aunt. She had never given him a satisfactory explanation for all their years apart, and it had taken him a long time to love and accept her as his mother. But now the mystery was deepening, and he was almost afraid to know more. Thus they sat, mother and son, both lost in their own thoughts, as a bird's fluting warble began in a tree in the central courtyard. The birdsong awoke something in her. He saw her eyes soften, her mouth curve into a smile as she whispered, "Listen, Dickon! I can hear a blackbird." Copyright © 2006 by Anne Easter Smith

Bookclub Guide

A Rose for the Crown Reading Group Guide Questions & Topics for Discussion The Prologue contains significant details about Kate and her two sons, one of whom dies tragically in these opening pages. Did having this information up front influence your reading of the story? Why do you suppose Anne Easter Smith chose to reveal these facts in the Prologue? When Kate is ten years old, her father tells her the story of how he came into possession of an ecu, a French coin, in order to help her understand the concept of loyalty. Loyalty is "when you stand by someone you love or honor and do not desert them even in the bad times," he says. What impact does this conversation have on Kate? How does the idea of loyalty play out in the story? Why does Kate give Richard the ecu to wear when it comes into her possession? When Kate's parents decide to accept Richard Haute's offer to have Kate join their household, John Bywood says to him, "As much as it do sadden us to see her go, we are obliged to do what is best for Kate." Even ten-year-old Kate acknowledges that "the thrill of a new life at the Mote must outweigh the loss." How do these same statements apply to Kate and her own children many years later? Kate is reluctant to marry her first husband, Thomas Draper, a man much older than she. But in what ways does Kate's marriage to Thomas come to benefit her? Why is Kate, a smart woman, then so deceived by her second husband, George, who not only marries her for her money but harbors a dark secret? When Kate finds out why George refuses to consummate their marriage, she decides to keep his secret. Why does she choose not to reveal what she knows, even though it could be the very thing that will free her from her marriage? After George dies, Kate dreams of him and believes this is God's way of "reminding her of the reason for [his] untimely death. If she had told him who her lover was from the beginning, he might not have attempted to find Richard and venture into Sherwood Forest." Does Kate bear any responsibility for George's death? When Kate travels to the Howard estate and unexpectedly attends the birth of their daughter, she strikes up a friendship with Margaret. In what ways does Kate's friendship with Margaret play an integral role in her life? When Kate first begins her affair with Richard, he's fifteen and she's two years older. What draws them together? Is their relationship based on more than youthful passion? After the initiation of their love affair at the Howards' home, Richard attempts to persuade Kate to accompany him to London as his mistress. Although she's tempted, as it would allow her to see him more often, why does Kate refuse Richard's offer? When they return to Bywood Farm in anticipation of Dickon's birth, Geoff remarks to his sister, "Who would have believed how our lives would change, Kate. If it had not been for your boldness...we would still think there was no bigger river than the Medway or town than Tunbridge!" Is their change in fortune due to Kate's "boldness"? Does Kate knowingly use it to her advantage? Is this quality more effective when it comes to the men in her life than the women? Why does Kate insist on telling Richard in person that Katherine has died? When she breaks the news to him, he says, "I have nothing to live for, Kate. I have lost my wife, my son, my brothers, my nephews, and now my beautiful daughter. I swear to Almighty God I do not care if I live or die.... I wish Richmond would come through that door this very moment and put me out of my misery!" Did Kate do the right thing by telling Richard about their daughter's death right before he went into battle? Both Margaret and Kate's cousin, Anne, disagree with her decision to send Dickon to Bywood farm to be raised as her brother's child. When Kate tells Richard, however, he commends her for caring about their child so much that she would do such a selfless thing. How do you explain these different reactions? Did Kate make the right decision, particularly in light of what transpires later in the story? What compels Kate to finally reveal the truth to Dickon? Richard says to Kate about his wife, Anne, "she is a simple soul, Kate, and too vulnerable. In many ways, you would be more suited as a queen." Compare Kate with Richard's wife, Anne, and the role each one plays in his life. If someone were observing their first meeting, what would they conclude about the two women? Why does Richard confide in Kate on numerous occasions after he becomes king? A Rose for the Crown is a bittersweet story, and the characters experience both moments of great happiness and intense sorrow. What is your overall impression of the book? How does it compare to other works of historical fiction you've read? Did you come away with an understanding of what it was like during, as Smith says in the Author's Note, "one of English history's most complex periods"? Enhance Your Book Club Discussion Set the scene -- and enliven your taste buds -- by serving tea and traditional English delicacies like shortbread, custard, sugared plums, and scones with jam and clotted cream. If your group normally meets at a restaurant, or if you'd like a change of pace, visit www.theteacaddy.com for a directory of tea rooms across the United States. Select a nonfiction aspect presented in the book, find out more about it, and share your findings with the group. Then discuss its significance in the story, and in particular how it affects Kate. Possible topics include fifteenth-century laws about divorce and annulment, the use of plants and herbs for medicinal purposes, and taking a vow of widowhood. Throughout history King Richard III has often been remembered as a usurper of the throne and possibly even a murderer. Conduct some research into how he has been portrayed -- in books, articles, and even entertainment sources like Shakespeare's plays and twentieth-century film adaptations. Compare your findings to how Smith presents the monarch in the book, taking into account the information she shares in the Author's Note. A listing of resources and links can be found at www.richardiii.net, the website of the Richard III Society, whose mission is to restore the reputation of this controversial historical figure.

Editorial Reviews

"Anyone interested in history, honor and lost love will want to read A Rose for the Crown."

-- Sharon Kay Penman, author of The Sunne in Splendour