Friday, June 04, 2010
The White Queen
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 432 pages.
My father is Sir Richard Woodville, Baron Rivers, an English nobleman, a landholder, and a supporter of the true Kings of England, the Lancastrian line. My mother descends from the Dukes of Burgandy and so carries the watery blood of the goddess Melusina, who founded their royal house with her entranced ducal lover, and can still be met a times of extreme trouble, crying a warning over the castle rooftops when the son and heir is dying and the family doomed. Or so they say, those who believe in such things.
It took me quite a while to read The White Queen. This historical fiction novel is about Elizabeth, the wife of Edward IV, and the mother of the fallen princes, Edward and Richard. (Of course, she is also the mother of Elizabeth, the princess who finds herself engaged to Henry Tudor, England's would-be-savior.) No one can say for sure what happened to the two princes. Is Richard III, their uncle, a murderer? Did he murder his two young nephews? Did he need to murder these two to secure the crown? Or were there other players involved in this mystery? Whose royal claims to the throne were most aided most by these deaths?
This mystery is fascinating. And the second half of the novel--for the most part--focuses on these years. The years after Edward IV's death. The years that saw Elizabeth, the queen, hiding in sanctuary with (most) of her children. These were emotionally and politically turbulent years. Everything being so uncertain. Not knowing who to trust.
But that is only part of the story. The first half deals with Elizabeth's marriage. A marriage that began in secrecy. A marriage that helped contribute (for better or worse) to England's political topsy-turviness.
I was (pleasantly) surprised at how clean this Gregory novel was. I've read some of the author's previous works and was ready for just about anything.
I didn't always love this one. At times I found it a bit boring, a bit dry. But I'm glad I stuck with it. Because the second half really picked up. And it was worth it for that alone.
I would recommend this one for those interested in this time period.
The Red Queen, another in The Cousins' War series, will be released this August.
See also: The Tudor Rose: A Novel of Elizabeth of York by Margaret Campbell Barnes, Richard III by William Shakespeare, The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham, Sent by Margaret Peterson Haddix.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews