I had read Philippa Gregory‘s other books before… The Other Boleyn Girl probably being her most well-known one. I was enamored by the Tudor life, devouring 6 of the 7 novels she has written in her 16th Century Tudor series. It’s been a while since I picked her work up, but I heard great things about this new 15th Century Plantagenets series (aka The Cousins’ War series), which begins with The White Queen. Following the life of Elizabeth Woodville, a newly widowed young woman, who ascends to royalty. With the taste of this lifestyle, she rises to the occasion of her & her family’s new status. She gets tangled into battle after battle, with people who constantly try to overthrow their reign and falls into hunger and ambition of holding onto her title.
As usual, Gregory weaves a brilliant tale, one that I often find I’m unsure whether it is based on historical fact or a work of fiction. Like many stories from this time period, a lot of the people have repeating names, so having to distinguish which Edward or which George she is referring to sometimes got a bit tiresome to keep track of. For the most part though, Gregory reminds the readers of that particular person’s place without sounding too repetitive. The only aspect I found hard to absorb was the whole Melusina, the water goddess, part of it. I thought the inclusion of this apparent fable and the touch of magic and “witchcraft” seemed a bit out of place, even though being called a witch was probably fairly common back then. To me, it just took me out of the “realism” of the story. As a side note, WOW can this woman ever churn out the kids!
I liked the Author’s Notes at the end, however. Gregory explains that a lot of the novel has its basis in historical fact, even the fairytale of Melusina. Where there were conflicting accounts, or missing portions, was where she filled in and elaborated on the fictional part of the story. I love that the mystery of what happened to Elizabeth’s sons still remains a mystery to historians. Nobody knows the fate of what happened to them in the Tower.
I can’t wait to start the second part of this series, entitled The Red Queen, which follows Margaret Beaufort, Henry Tudor’s mother.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4/5 stars)