Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review: The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Title: The White Queen
Author: Philippa Gregory
Publisher: Touchstone
Publish Date: 2009
Source: Library

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You love historical fiction.
  • You like a little magical realism.
What's the Story?:

From "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."

My Two Cents:

This book is a great introduction to the so-called Cousins' War of English history. Two families, the Lancasters and the Yorks, are pitted against each other in a war for the crown of England. This book is the first in a trilogy and focuses on the York family and specifically on Elizabeth Woodville, a noblewoman, who becomes queen after a chance meeting with the King of England.

I liked this book a lot. Not only did I think it was a good introduction to this period in English history when so much was at stake but I also enjoyed the elements of magical realism in the book. Elizabeth believes that she was descended from a goddess, sort of an interesting factor in English royalty lore, usually it seems that "divine right" is more prevalent. The 'magical realism' in this book is very subtle. Elizabeth recognizes that she is descended from the water goddess but doesn't try to use any special powers. Let's call it magical realism light!

Elizabeth is a pretty interesting character. She goes from begging for her dead husband's lands back to becoming the Queen of England, quite a transformation.

Full disclosure: I'm a big Philippa Gregory fan. Her books always have a tendency to suck you right in with the gorgeous scenery and larger than life characters. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the other books in this trilogy!


  1. I love reading about this time period, it is so interesting. Elizabeth sounds like a great character, I am anxious to read this one!

  2. Ooh, this sounds like a fantastic Philippa Gregory novel! She has so many books I don't know where to begin - but after reading your review, The White Queen seems like a good choice!

  3. This has been on my TBR for soooooo long...and I just haven't found time to read it. You review makes me know I have neglected it for too long. Time to bump it up! Thanks for the review.

  4. @Anne I think this is really the only book that I've read about this time period. Although I did read a book about Cecily Neville who would have been Elizabeth's mother in law (Queen by Right - a great book).

  5. @Kat @ NoPageLeftBehind Have you read anything by her before? If not, I'm also a big fan of The Other Boleyn Girl!

  6. @lsl_scrapper It's always a good time for a little historical fiction :)

  7. I've read Thomas Costain's non-fiction about the Plantagenets (which reads like a novel, it's all so interesting) but never any historical fiction. Must do so!

    Have you read The Autobiography of Henry VIII?

  8. I looooved The Other Boleyn Girl, and this is definitely in my TBR pile! Thanks for the review.


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