The White Queen by Philippa Gregory is a great historical tale mixing fact with fiction that tells the story of the Plantagenets who came before the Tudors in the ruling of England. I really enjoy Gregory’s books, The Other Boleyn Girl being my absolute favorite, but I have to say The White Queen is right up there with it weaving the fact in with the fiction in a most creative way.
The White Queen follows Elizabeth Woodville Grey in her rise from poverty to Queen of the Kingdom. At twenty-seven years old Elizabeth is a widow left with nothing but two young sons to raise. She decides to stand along the side of the road and try to get King Edward’s attention as he goes by. Now keeping in mind that Elizabeth is an extraordinarily beautiful woman this was not hard to do. The young King, five years younger than Elizabeth, is quite taken with her and of course tries to have her. She will have none of it, she will not be a mistress to the King. They finally marry in secret and King Edward goes to war promising her he will return.
When King Edward returns he still says their marriage must be kept secret but finally gets up the nerve to tell his advisors that he has married Elizabeth. They, of course, are infuriated. He was to marry in order to advance his Kingdom, not for love. Here in lies the story and all of the tumult that follows. King Edward battles not only his advisors but his brother because of this marriage. Worse yet are the rumors that Elizabeth comes from a family that practices magic. This doesn’t matter at this time though as Elizabeth’s family rises to power as the backing behind the King.
As always though there is scheming in the background and everyone plotting against each other. There is enough treachery and betrayal in this book to go around. The King’s brother George tries to destroy him from the beginning feeling that Edward shouldn’t be on the Throne. His brother Richard is loyal but after Edward dies he takes a route to gain the throne that doesn’t put him in the best light either. Then there is the mystery surrounding the missing Princes from the Tower. From start to finish there is enough going on to keep those pages turning late into the night as they did for me.
Then there is also the element of magic in this novel. Elizabeth comes from a line of women who descend from Melusina, a water goddess. Elizabeth, her mother and then Elizabeth’s daughter all have the Sight. They can see things in dreams or hear things coming off the water. In some instances they can cause storms or ailments to afflict someone. I did enjoy the magical element because that’s my kind of thing and it’s not an overwhelming aspect to the story as it’s more behind the scenes probably because people were beheaded in those times for being witches. I liked that Gregory added this spin on the book, it added a different flavor to the story and it also set the scene for some things that occured in the book and then in the future.
As for characters I liked the way Elizabeth was portrayed in this book. She was a strong woman who would stop at nothing to protect her family and ensure their rise to power. King Edward, although quite the womanizer, still cut an empowering figure and I liked him. Again there are things about this world back then that just horrify me like betrothing your children when they are still babies to others just to ensure alliances and secure finances. I just can’t imagine the life women had then pretty much being bargaining chips.
The White Queen is Book One in The Cousins’ War – this is to be a trilogy telling of the feuds of England known as the War of the Roses – and I can’t wait to read the next one. It’s called The Red Queen and will focus on Margaret Beaufort who was the mother of Henry VII. Be sure to pop by and visit Philippa Gregory’s wonderful website here. The White Queen releases tomorrow, August 18, but you can buy now in the US here and in Canada here. I’d like to thank Kelly Bowen with Simon and Schuster for my copy of The White Queen.
I’d like to thank Kelly with Simon and Schuster as well for offering up 2 copies of The White Queen for my readers. This giveaway is open to US & Canadian residents only (no PO boxes) as they will be sent out by the publisher. What can you do to enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment with a way to contact you.
- For 2 entries follow my blog. If you already do, thanks, and please let me know in your comment so I can pass the extra entry on to you.
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