Jean Marie's Reviews > The White Queen

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
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Aug 03, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-general-renaissance
Read in August, 2011

4.5 Stars and arguably Gregory's best work since The Other Boleyn Girl.

My knowledge of the War of the Roses and the women involved is rudimentary to put it kindly. I know what happened, who were the major players, who were the major players who died, and who won in the end leading into the Tudor Dynasty that I'm much more familiar with. More importantly, my knowledge of Elizabeth Woodville is based primarily as the mother of Elizabeth of York, essentially her being older and nothing more that the queen's mother.

I really enjoyed the story Gregory wove into the history around Elizabeth Woodville. In comparing the story to some research, a great deal of the fiction is rooted in fact. I enjoyed Elizabeth's take a narrator to her own story. Sudden love and queen to upstart Edward IV, mother of the many daughters of York and the ill fated Princes in the Tower. I enjoyed especially her relationship with her mother, Jacquetta and their spirituality. I loved how clever Gregory used the accusations of witchcraft that were placed against both mother and daughter to her advantage in this novel. Medieval magic themes are always fascinating and truly believable due to the time period and during the times of troubles of the Cousins' War makes it more so.

Semi-Spoilers!
I also loved how she used the witchcraft idea to curse the man and his line who was responsible for the murder of the Princes in the Tower. I loved how both Elizabeths seemed to favor Henry Tudor as the culprit, which those who know the history know that his first born son does die and eventually the Tudor House does end. But, Richard's son and line dies before then and with the Princes murdered or at least disappeared, the male line of the House of York dies with Richard. And with this, Gregory leaves the door still open with who killed the princes.

I was a bit surprised that Gregory played the Elizabeth of York being in love with Richard III. I recalled from the history that after his queen had died he pressed to marry the younger Elizabeth but she was already betrothed to one Henry Tudor. I would have loved to have this novel end with Henry's victory just to see how Gregory would portray the older Elizabeth's shock, the younger's heartbreak.

I also enjoyed how Gregory played up the idea that the future pretender Perkin is truly the lost son Richard of York. And ending with the older Elizabeth calling him home from Flanders in thinking that Richard III would be victorious against Henry and that Richard would be able to place him back in the succession.

Overall, I really loved this book. It was easy to read once I got used to her prose again. It was a lot of fun to read how she would take a story like Elizabeth Woodville's and mold it into a novel without losing the fact. We will never know what happened to her sons, the Princes in the Tower, but Gregory gives us a plausible happy ending with this novel, and a great cliff hanger into the second book in the series, The Red Queen, in order to see how Gregory will weave the facts into her fiction.
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