First thoughts

The Kingmaker’s Daughter

First thoughts

Philippa Gregory

Simon & Schuster, €25.10;

Kindle, £9.99

Review: Laura Wurzal

Philippa Gregory’s latest novel is the fourth in The Cousins’ War series. She has focused on Yorkist Elizabeth Woodville, her mother Jacquetta and Lancastrian Margaret Beauford. Now she looks at Anne Neville, wife of Richard III.

Anne and her eldest sister Isabel were the daughters of Richard, Earl of Warwick, the Kingmaker. The most wealthy, powerful and ambitious nobleman in England, he had engineered the downfall of King Henry VI and put Edward IV on the throne.

When Edward secretly marries the very beautiful Elizabeth Woodville, who seeks to undermine Warwick’s power, the Earl plans to overthrow the king using his own daughters as political pawns.

By the time she is 15, Anne is widowed, fatherless and her sister’s enemy. Her only hope is childhood friend, Edward’s younger brother, Richard (later Richard III).

Like the previous novels, this cleverly blends fact with fiction and is full of the plotting, scheming and treachery that was life in Court.

Lessons From The Top

Gavin Esler

Profile Books, £12.99;

Kindle, £6.78

Review: Tinashe Sithole

As an award-winning television and radio broadcaster, novelist and journalist, Gavin Esler is also the author of five novels and non-fiction book The United States Of Anger. But he is better known as one of the faces of Newsnight. In this brilliant book, he delivers the same no-frills, succinct style that he delivers to his work on television. Through his enviable life interviewing the world’s most prominent people he shares the secrets of how leaders attempt to weave a link between themselves and us through the art of symbolism and stories.

Lessons From The Top has some of the greatest tales of the past two centuries. From world leaders to global superstars, the link that ties all of these individuals is the method in which they portray themselves to the public, ie they tell us a story to achieve their goals — a following.

The Devil’s Cave

Martin Walker

Quercus, €17.15;

Kindle, £11.64

Review: Robert Dex

Former Guardian reporter Martin Walker returns with the fifth adventure for his French country cop, Bruno Chief of Police. The novel opens with the peace and quiet of summer in the Dordogne dashed when a body in a boat floats downriver into the quiet town of St Denis.

Soon Bruno is deep in an investigation taking him into a world of black magic, political corruption and the almost-forgotten activities of the French resistance.

The book’s darker edges are balanced out by a likeable main character and Walker’s obvious love for and understanding of French country life is obvious in every page.

The page-turning plot also allows for brief forays into Bruno’s complicated lovelife and lovingly detailed descriptions of his culinary skills while not losing any of its pace.

An enjoyable read for crime fans — Francophile or not.

What In God’s Name

Simon Rich

Serpent’s Tale €17.15;

adobe ebook, €16.65

Review: Angela Johnson

US author Simon Rich, best known for being the youngest writer ever on Saturday Night Live, delivers wit aplenty in his second novel.

A wry smile will adorn your face throughout this tongue-in-cheek look at how Heaven Inc. conducts its business. Badly.

God is the hapless CEO at the helm, backed up by arrogant Archangels with little concern for what a myriad of departments such as “Miracles”, “Sunsets” and “Prayer Intake” do.

Lowly Angels Craig and Eliza have to put in the 9 ’til 5 slog in this quirky and engaging look at a Heaven we can actually relate to!

When God decides to throw in the towel to pursue his dream of opening an Asian-fusion restaurant, Craig and Eliza cast a bet with him — if they can answer just one prayer, he will cancel Doomsday. Humanity’s last hope rests literally on a wing and a prayer.

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