March 28, 2012

BOOK REVIEW | The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Basic information
Title: The White Queen
Author: Philippa Gregory
Series: The Cousins' War #1
Genre: historical fiction, adult
Published by: Touchstone in 2009

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.

One day, I was looking through some videos of Elle and found out she does hauls and reviews on books. I watched some of them and there was a review on a book called The White Queen. I was already hooked after hearing the summary. I've been interested in the history of England and their royals for quite some time now and I even considered studying it.
By the way, since I found this whole new side of YouTube of people doing book reviews and stuff I've started a book-wishlist of like 5 pages, oops! Enough rambling, let's talk about what this is about!

The White Queen tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV. Maybe you'll know who I mean if I tell you that she's Henry VIII's grandmother. It starts when Elizabeth asks the king for financial help since her husband died and she now has to live with her parents again. The two fall in love, marry, have a lot of children (the lost princes in the Tower) and go through wars (Cousin War/War of the Roses).

This is of course a historical fiction so that means that a few things in this book might not have actually happened. For example: Elizabeth uses 'magic' to make it rain for days. Such thing has never happened. It might have rained for days but it wouldn't have been because of Elizabeth.
Throughout the book there are short pieces of what looks like an earlier version of The Little Mermaid. In this case the 'mermaid' is called Melusina and is a water goddess. Elizabeth (and her mother & daughter) considers herself  a daughter of Melusina and that's why she has these 'magical powers'.

In this time period a lot of people were called Richard, George, Edward, Thomas,... but when reading the book it stays very clear about which Richard the author is talking. You don't get confused with names even though there might have been around 5 different George's in this story. Also, in the beginning of the book you find a map of the United Kingdom and a family tree of the British royals starting at Edward III. Very handy if you don't know every little town in the UK. It also shows you where the Yorks have defeated the Lancasters during the War of the Roses and vice versa. Elizabeth mentions quite often to the 'other queen'. Philippa Gregory has written a book about her too called The Red Queen (red rose is the symbol of the Lancasters, white rose is for York). I'm not sure if I'll read that one too because I'm not really interested in her side of the story and because I think I won't ever be on her ‘side’.
I'm very positive about this book. I did take me a few weeks to read it because I took a break from it when I reached a long chapter about the war. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the British court in the 1400's.

This is my first historical fiction and I will definitely read more! I'm already craving The White Princess which is about Elizabeth of York (daughter of Elizabeth Woodville, mother of Henry VIII). I have a few other books waiting for me to be read but I hope I can start in The White Princess pretty soon.

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