Monday, October 7, 2013

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Author: Philippa Gregory
Publish Date: January 1, 2008
ISBN: 9781476735481
List Price: $10.57 (Paperback)
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Jacket Synopsis:
Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.

With The White Queen, Philippa Gregory brings the artistry and intellect of a master writer and storyteller to a new era in history and begins what is sure to be another bestselling classic series from this beloved author.

My Comments:
Let me first state that I very much enjoy Philippa Gregory's writing style. It is smooth, vivid, and logically laid out. This book is from the perspective of Elizabeth Woodville, her story of the White Queen of York during the time of the War of the Roses and ends with the inevitable Lancaster resurgence by the Tudor's. This story is mostly non-fiction where historical records are available to lay out the story, where there is no record or required personal insight, the author does a good job of piecing in fictional bridges to fill the holes in the historical records. She does propose several logical outcomes to certain situations that were not recorded to let the reader pause to question what they think may have happened, but in those parts of the book the author tries not to give a definitive answer where there are no facts.

Elizabeth's Mother was always a source of advice and comfort. Her initial advice to Elizabeth is "...give your husband a son and heir, protect the poor and innocent, and further the hopes of your family. Any ninny with a honest heart, a scheming family, and an open purse can do that." In this portrayal of Elizabeth, she appears to want to be an honest and fair queen. References like these show how strong women could be during a time when women could not rule and perceived to not maintain any form of power.

Page 183 - Anthony's response, a foreshadowing of future events? "All the York Family are a bloodthirsty lot, born and raised on the battlefield. Let us hope that when we finally have peace, they don't kill each other out of sheer habit."

Page 340 - "I am alone in a world of master conspirators." A statement made by Elizabeth as she tries to protect her sons from what she perceives as their York uncle Richard's attempt to steal the throne for himself. However, the book and the miniseries, leave question as to Richard's true goal for the throne. Whether it was to truly crown the Prince Edward to begin with, but with Elizabeth's defensive moves, did they cause Richard to doubt the intentions of the Rivers family. So much attention is given the the notion of witchcraft, it leaves much to the imagination of the reader.

The book does well overall to identify the major characters to these historical events and outline the many plots that were devised to gain advantage in every situation by every family who could remotely vie for the throne. An amazing historical time, but a brutal & horrible time to live, I am sure. This is 1 of 4 in the series of books called the "Cousin's War".

I am off to read the Red Queen, from the perspective of Margaret Beaufort, the last Lancaster family to have strong contention for the thrown with her son Henry be Henry the VII?

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