(Via Goodreads.com) Philippa Gregory presents the first of a new series set amid the deadly feuds of England known as the Wars of the Roses.
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.
With The White Queen, Philippa Gregory brings the artistry and intellect of a master writer and storyteller to a new era in history and begins what is sure to be another bestselling classic series from this beloved author.
Many people have enjoyed Philippa Greogory’s version of The White Queen, as is evident in the creation of a STARZ Original Series under the same name as the first book in the Cousins’ War novel series.
It premiers this August.
Q: For readers who love your books set in Tudor England, what would you like them to know about the Plantagenets and the House of York?
A: I suppose I’d like them to know that here is a family just as fascinating as the Tudors, perhaps more so. Certainly, they are more complicated, more wicked, and more passionate–takers of great risk. I think people have been put off this period because it has been so well studied by military historians that it has been regarded as being just about battles. But there is so much more to it than this! The history of the women of the period has been very neglected because of this emphasis on battles and thus the male leaders.
Q: What appealed to you about using Elizabeth Woodville as the main character in a novel? In what ways do you think modern women can identify with Elizabeth?
A: The things I discovered about Elizabeth in the first days of my reading about this period told me at once that she would fascinate me, and she has done so. Her background as a descendant of a family who claim to be related to a goddess was enough to have me absolutely enchanted straightaway. It is in the historical record that her mother was widely believed to be a witch, and that charge was leveled at Elizabeth also. This is exciting enough, but it also indicates that people were afraid of Elizabeth’s power, and I am interested in powerful women. I think she will fascinate modern women in the same way that many historical women strike a chord: despite so many changes in the world, women are still trying to find happiness, manage their children, seek advantage, and avoid the persecution of misogynists. As women of any time, we have a lot in common. Despite the amazing advances in the rights of women (and I am so grateful for these myself), the struggle for women’s freedom, independence, and the right to exercise power goes on.
Despite having already read The Kingmaker’s Daughter and The Lady of the Rivers, books #4 and 3 of the Cousins’ War series, I was a bit apprehensive about beginning this book. Despite my pleasure in reading a new genre, these books are quite intimidating to a novice of English history circa 1450-1500. There are so many repeated names and titles, and please don’t get me started with the interchangeable heirs to the throne. I didn’t do myself any favors by reading the novels in the wrong order, but it was suggested that instead of reading The White Queen first, leading off with The Lady of the Rivers would be best as its plot chronologically begins the tale. By this time, my third book, I am in; I have invested over 1200 pages into this series and I cannot give up.
What I like about this series:
1. I thought that Gregory did a wonderful job of expressing the events of the life of Elizabeth Woodville and her ascent to the throne of England, the terror of being at war for power both on the battlefield and within the family tree, and assuring the safety of her siblings and offspring.
2. The twists of fate, sometimes under the influence of witchcraft, are spicy and full of drama.
What has been just “ehh” about this series:
1. Many of the reviews that I have read talk about their distaste for the repetition of the titles and lineage, and at certain points I too found myself thinking, “alright, already!” Odd, because you’d think that I would appreciate this because my brain don’t get the big thoughts too well. Can’t win for losing.
2. Despite the storyline being interesting and keeps my attention, when I begin reading The Red Queen, I’ll have heard the same tale four times. I’m running out of curiosity and need to books to take me more than twenty pages beyond the overlap of the previous.
So will I finish this series? Of course, mostly because I’ve already purchased the books. Will I keep an open mind about it? You bettcha! All during the 424 pages of the next novel.