Thursday, June 4, 2015

Book Review: The White Queen by Philippa Gregory {The Cousin's War}

Adult, Historical Fiction
Publication.Date  August 18th 2009
Published By:  Touchstone
AuthorPhilippa Gregory

The White Queen on Goodreads
My review copy:Own.
Where to get:,%201

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.

He promised her that he would give her everything, everything she wanted, as men in love always do. And she trusted him despite herself, as women in love always do.
For he loved her and he understood that a woman cannot always live as a man. He understood that she cannot always think as he thought, walk as he walked, breathe the air that he took in. She would always be a different being from him, listening to a different music, hearing a different sound, familiar with a different element.
Nothing in the world matter more than life. You have a long road to walk and a lot of lessons to learn if you don't know that.

Elizabeth Woodville was a young widow who approached the recently crowned King Edward of York with a financial plea and ending up getting far more than fiscal advice. Elizabeth was an exceptional beauty and she almost inevitably caught the eye of the young King. The two quickly fell in love and married secretly without securing the permission of any of the King's advisers. As rumors of the marriage spread among the nobility, outrage at such a breach of convention started to build and when Elizabeth was finally formally presented at court as the new Queen, plotting and intrigue swiftly began. Forced by necessity and aided and abetted by her mother, Elizabeth starts to change from being a rather naive young women into a savvy political operator who forms alliances and brokers marriages with the single-minded goal of securely her family's grip on power. Elizabeth does great work to strengthen her husband's position as King but it isn't long before old threats to his rule resurface.

Philippa Gregory is well respected as an historian as well as an author and, while The White Queen still seems hugely authentic and authoritative, it is noticeably more fictional and speculative in its content than Gregory's previous Tudor era books have been. While this difference is probably simply due to the relative scarcity of records and information that have survived from the Plantagenet period, particularly concerning the character of Elizabeth Woodville herself, the purely fictional elements have actually served to help rather than hinder the story. Certain of the historical mysteries that Gregory has woven into The White Queen, particularly those concerning the fate of Elizabeth's son.

The author draws you into a story that is full of greed and blood, sex, social climbing and the ultimate betrayal of death. I found the story so riveting of the commoner Elizabeth Woodville and her rise to power to become the Queen Consort of the Plantagenet Reign! Nothing will stop her from becoming one of the most powerful women in British history, not even the death of her loved ones.

I was very happy that the author chose Elizabeth as the main character because her life was filled with such angst, power and greed and it was time someone wrote about her. Whether you like her or hate her, you cannot take away the fact that she was a very big piece of the Plantagenet Reign, if not the most important. Elizabeth's and King Edward IV many children became some of the most powerful and entitled people of the British Monarch.

I adore Philippa Gregory and her historical fiction novels. I can't get enough of history told from the perspective of the women and the political intrique behind the rulers who wear the crown. History is told and written by the winners and so often women voices are left out of the historical narrative. Philippa Gregory recreates that written historical record with meticulous research and shares English history from a different point of view. I always learn so much when I read Gregory and she makes it interesting and memorable. It is not like learning history from a textbook, it is definitely more fun than that. She has written more than 20 books on English history based in the Tudor period and The Cousin's war period. If you are an historical fiction lover like myself, you'll love this author's work. 

About the author:

Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Published in 2009, the bestselling The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville, ushered in a new series involving The Cousins’ War (now known as The War of the Roses) and a new era for the acclaimed author.
Gregory lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire, where she keeps horses, hens and ducks. Visitors to her site, become addicted to the updates of historical research, as well as the progress of her ducklings.
Her other great interest is the charity she founded nearly twenty years ago; Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells in the primary schools of the dry, poverty stricken African country. Thousands of school children have learned market gardening, and drunk the fresh water in the school gardens around the wells.
A former student of Sussex University, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh University, her love for history and her commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. She also reviews for US and UK newspapers, and is a regular broadcaster on television, radio, and webcasts from her website.

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