Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The White Princess (2013)

The White Princess. Philippa Gregory. 2013. Simon & Schuster. 544 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

I have enjoyed each book in Philippa Gregory's Cousins' War series. I think I have enjoyed each book a little bit more as the series has progressed. The first book being my least favorite--from this series--and the last book probably being my most favorite. The series consists of:  The White Queen by Philippa Gregory, The Red Queen by Phillipa Gregory,  The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory, and The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory. The White Princess tells the story of Elizabeth York; she is the daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville; the sister of the two princes in the tower; the niece of Richard III; the wife of Henry VII; the daughter-in-law of Margaret Beaufort; the mother of Henry VIII. To say her life was messy and complicated, well, that wouldn't even begin to explain it all. But Philippa Gregory gives her a voice, fictional though it may be. And her story is something.

When readers first meet Elizabeth, she is mourning the death of Richard III. The novel taking the position that Elizabeth and Richard were in love with each other, and would have in fact married if the battle had gone a different way. Elizabeth knows that her marriage with Henry VII makes sense politically for both families. The York family being popular and beloved, and, the Tudor family being 'merely' conquerors--outsiders. But the thought of love is far from her mind. And Henry VII isn't exactly wooing her well. The book is fictional, and I'm curious if there is any basis in reality for this depiction? (And it's on the advice of his mother!) The two marry, of course, and children quickly follow. The main focus of the novel is on her private life, her role as a wife, mother, queen in a very uncertain court. Henry VII is depicted as being anxious and a bit obsessed. His concern that he'll be defeated in battle. That the York family will in some way or other will dethrone him, win back control, etc. His obsession with "the boy" that may or may not be Richard, duke of York.

The novel spans over a decade: 1485-1499. And it does address in some ways, the fate of the boys in the tower.

I definitely loved this one. I found it very compelling! It is such a fascinating period in history!

Favorite quotes:
"What I don't have I will write myself. I will write this boy's parentage into his story, I will create it: common people, nasty people. The father a bit of a drunk, the mother a bit of a foot, the boy a bit of a runaway, a wastrel, a good-for-nothing. D'you think I can't write this and get someone--a drunk married to a fool--to swear to it? Do you think I can't set up as historian? As storyteller? D'you think I can't write a history which years from now, everyone will believe as the truth? I am the king. Who shall write the record of my reign if not me?" (329)
"It doesn't matter who Henry is facing. Whether it is my mother's favorite boy or another mother's son. What matters is that you have not made your boy the beloved of England. You should have made him beloved and you have not done so. His only safety lies in the love of his people, and you have not secured that for him." (403)

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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