The White Queen
By Philippa Gregory
Thorndike Windsor Paragon
Elizabeth Woodville is young, beautiful, and a widow with two small boys when she plans to petition the newly crowned King Edward to get her lands back from her former mother-in-law. She waits patiently with her two boys by the side of the road knowing he will pass by with his army. While the Woodvilles fought on the side of Henry, Edward’s cousin and now defeated king of England, she has hopes that her beauty will make him stop and help her.
The two fall in love, marry in secret, and wait for Edward to secure his crown before announcing the marriage. Elizabeth is a commoner and the marriage is not popular with the King’s counselors who do all they can to convince him to leave her. He doesn’t and the two begin building strong alliances by marrying off every supporter, brother, sister, and friend to anyone they see as a future problem. In the end, the war they fought so hard to end, never does. After Edward’s death, the world Elizabeth knows is gone but she keeps fighting wanting to continue and secure the Plantagenet line that she and Edward worked so hard to protect.
This is the first Philippa Gregory book I’ve read. I love historical fiction but somehow I’ve managed to pass her over. I picked this one up with very high hopes. I won’t say the hopes were dashed, but it may be a while before I read another.
I liked the time period, I liked the royals fighting, I liked the court, and I liked the characters. Edward and Elizabeth had good chemistry and the court intrigue was really interesting but there was something that was holding me back from really liking it and I think it was the magical element to the story. It felt silly and contrived to me. I usually like the fantasy, magic, and witchcraft additions to a story but here it didn’t work for me. I vaguely remember reading that either Elizabeth or her mother were accused of witchcraft and I understand the need to include it in the story but I couldn’t get into it here.
I almost put this book down a few times but I decided to finish it and I’m glad I did. Gregory’s writing style can pull you in and in a few places I felt I was really liking the book and then the queen and her mother would get to cursing someone and I quickly backed away again. I don’t know what it was here but in a few months time I think I will give her another chance.
4 thoughts on “The White Queen”
I would try The Other Boleyn Girl next- there’s a reason it’s her most famous work. The court machinations there are much better. I’m not sure what to think of Gregory adding in magic- I’m not sure if her usually matter-of-fact prose can really support it, and you’ve proven it in this review.
I haven’t read this one because her last one was disappointing for me and I’ve heard that this one wasn’t up to snuff for her as well. The Other Boleyn Girl is good, it’s true, but my favorites by her are The Virgin’s Lover and The Queen’s Fool. I suggest you start with one of those.
Thanks for the suggestions! I’d like to try Gregory again and I think The Other Boleyn maybe it.
If you didn’t love this book, I wouldn’t be rushing out to read any other Gregory. I think this was was almost, but not quite, as good as “The Other Boleyn Girl” and the rest of them don’t come anywhere near that standard.