Tara Chevrestt's Reviews > The White Queen

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
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's review
Aug 27, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: women-that-really-existed-fiction, historical-fiction, england
Read in August, 2009

After being disappointed almost to tears by Gregory's The Other Queen, this one came as a pleasant surprise. It is not her best work in my opinion, but it was entertaining enough for the three days it took me to read it. This is the first in a series that Gregory has titled "the cousins' war," but this particular one is more a brothers' war. Through the eyes of Elizabeth Woodville, we witness a major case of brothers behaving badly. Elizabeth begins the story when she meets King Edward. After a secret wedding ceremony, Edward goes off to fight his cousin Henry, whom he has stolen the throne from. The first half of the book focuses on Elizabeth and Edward's marriage and Elizabeth's rush to put her own family in power as well as the constant fighting with a demented Henry. By the middle of the book, it becomes obvious that Henry is the least of Edward's problems as his own brother George is constantly raising armies for the throne as well. It seems that not one of these York boys (I am referring to a trio of brothers, Edward, George, and Richard in case one is not familiar with War of the Roses) is happy simply being brother to a king. Each one wants to be a king. Tho in Richard's defense, he had the grace to wait till Edward left this world before attempting to take the throne for himself.

The whole "brothers behaving badly" story got too repititive for me at times. There were some interesting twists I enjoyed tho, whether they be historically accurate or not. Namely, George choosing to die in a vat of wine. My interest is certainly picqued enough that I will have to google for more information on that. I also enjoyed the relationship between Elizabeth and her mother. I was sad when Elizabeth's mother was no longer in the novel.

Something that bothered me incessantly and I want to mention is how Elizabeth constantly refers to her sons from her first marriage as her "Grey" sons. Like we would forget? I also felt that her character preferred her sons with Edward over her "Grey" sons. (Stuck in my head now, sorry all.) She attempts to protect Edward's boys while at the same time, sends her sons from her previous marriage off to possibly their deaths.

The story ends with Elizabeth's daughter, another Elizabeth, planning to face her own uncertain future.
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08/03/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Karawan (new) - added it

Karawan I'm re-reading this book now and the "Grey sons" thing drives me crazy! I was actually reading reviews to see if anyone had raised this point yet!

Tara Chevrestt Lol. You are not alone. :)

Patricia Burroughs I started this without knowing anything about this particular reign, and as things started feeling pretty grim, I did something I never do. I decided to check wikipedia and see how tragically this story ends. Oh. Wait. THESE ARE THE TWO PRINCES IN THE TOWER. Deep breath... but you know, I'm actually having trouble wanting to go back and keep reading. She has just made a decision that feels stupid, and am not sure how much more I want to watch her suffer. Or rather, how much more I want to suffer sympathatically.

Tara Chevrestt It's been a while since I read this one, but I get what you're saying.

Patricia Burroughs Tara wrote: "It's been a while since I read this one, but I get what you're saying."

I look at all of this from a writer's perspective as well as a reader's. As a reader, there were times I wanted to be able to feel more sympathy toward her. Things like "the Grey sons" are sometimes subtle, but they add to a general image of her that is sometimes more shallow and relentlessly ambitious than I can feel deep sympathy for. Which may be perfectly aligned with author intent--to present this queen as ambitious as well as loving, etc. But there is deep tragedy coming, and seeing her make these errors that will have such tragic results--sometimes influenced by ambition and family loyalty rather than simply a mother's desperate attempts to protect her children --might be more harrowing than I want to endure. I can't say more without massive spoilers.

Tara Chevrestt I think all PG's book are harrowing. I like them (some of them) because of that. I get tired of the skipping through flowers, let's all live HEA. Plus these are real life. I do think sometimes the heroines are TSTL...she penned one about Mary Queen of Scotland...oh, what a dull, worthless queen! LOL

Patricia Burroughs Tara wrote: "I think all PG's book are harrowing. I like them (some of them) because of that. I get tired of the skipping through flowers, let's all live HEA. Plus these are real life. I do think sometimes the ..."

Harrowing doesn't bother me in general but in this case I just was feeling like bitch-slapping her. We can forgive people for being human when we identify with their motivation, but if their motivation isn't something we can empathize with, it's more difficult.

Tara Chevrestt LOL. I hear ya.

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