Monday 19 August 2013

Review: The White Queen

Author: Philippa Gregory
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 18/08/09
Pages: 444
Genre: Historical Fiction

Internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings the tumult and intrigue of The Wars of the Roses to vivid life through the women of the House of Lancaster and the House of York, beginning with the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen. A woman who won the love of a king and ascended to royalty by virtue of her beauty, Elizabeth fought tenaciously for the success of her family -- her daughter who would one day unite the warring dynasties, and her two sons whose eventual fate has confounded historians for centuries: the Princes in the Tower. An active player in the power struggles that surrounded her, she made hard and courageous choices, always trying to protect those whom she loved. Informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills, Philippa Gregory gives an unforgettable voice to an extraordinary woman at the heart of a devastating conflict.

This is actually the first historical fiction novel I have read and I really enjoyed it. I think Philippa Gregory was the perfect author to introduce me to this genre. The War of the Roses was a fantastic backdrop for this novel and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the history of England.

When Elizabeth Woodville's husband Sir John Grey dies in battle, she is left with nothing. Her husband's lands are confiscated and her young sons, Thomas and Richard, are left without an inheritance. Elizabeth is a loyal Lancastrian but must approach the Yorkist King Edward IV to retrieve her sons' lands. What Elizabeth does not count on is falling in love with this Yorkist King - her sworn enemy.

It is love at first sight for Edward and Elizabeth. They marry in secret to curb any opposition to their union - it was uncommon in those days to marry for love. Edward was expected to marry a foreign princess, not a commoner like Elizabeth. Elizabeth faces resistance as soon as she is crowned Queen of England - many people believed she bewitched the King to marry her. How will she deal with the challenges that are presented to her during these hard times of the Cousin's War?

I found Elizabeth a likeable narrator, she was a very strong woman and very ambitious. When history is studied, men are the main focus of a historian's research and it is refreshing to see the War of the Roses through a woman's eyes, especially one who I think has been overlooked.

What I found interesting about this book is that Elizabeth and her Mother Jacquetta are portrayed as witches. They were supposedly descended from Melusina the water goddess. Whenever a situation was not falling in Elizabeth's favour, Jacquetta and Elizabeth would turn to their ancestor for some other-worldly help. I enjoyed this aspect of the book, the magic gave the story another dimension.

Philippa Gregory entwines fact and fiction together beautifully. Where historical information was not available, Philippa used her own imagination and knowledge of the characters to add to the story of Elizabeth herself. I highly recommend this book and will definitely be reading the rest of the books in this series.

5/5 Stars

My Song Choice: Wicked Game by Coves
This is the music used for the TV series The White Queen. It gives me goosebumps listening to it!

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