Review: The White Queen (The Cousins’ War #1) ~ Philippa Gregory

The white QueenBrother 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.

1 Thumbs-UpAs with anything to do with the War of the Roses research, and in-depth good research has to be a key to writing a riveting book.  Regardless of personal feelings the aim is to create a piece of fiction that supporters of both Houses will enjoy, unfortunately this was not the case this with book or series.  Yes, despite not liking this book one bit, I gave it the benefit of the doubt and read the whole lot of them.  What a waste of time and a big disappointment for me.

As with most written works on this time period, there are many different ways the story can be related, and from many different points of view; be it that from a purely Lancastrian bent or from the idealised House of York side, this Author threw all this out of the window and took a route that was so unbelievable it almost made me think that, despite the main characters being based in history this could easily have been a fantasy novel.

This neatly brings me onto the issue of characters.  With so much material available to a good researcher, the way in which this Author treats her characters is an insult to them and the period of time they inhabited.  The central character and the person who the title surrounds, it depicted as a witch.  What more can I say, not much really.  Anything and everything bad that befalls those around her is attributed to witchcraft from the first meeting with Edward IV right up to the withering of Richard III sword arm.  At every opportunity this woman bleats on about the death of her Father and Brother so much that I found myself at yet another bemoaning of this event telling her to move on, it’s the times you live in, everyone suffered during the war of the Roses.   It wasn’t Elizabeth of Woodville that I disliked, love her or hate her she is historically portrayed as a strong and opinionated woman for her time, definitely a force to be reckoned with especially when the reader considers that she managed to remain as Queen through some very turbulent times; what I disliked was I felt the Author took the easy way out when writing about her, it’s a lot easier to run with the same old witchcraft guff than develop a true to life character.  I could go into in-depth detail about the mistreatment of her other characters too, but that would take me almost as long to write this review, if not longer, than it did for the Author to write the book.  What I will say though is Margaret Beaufort, really?  The Author needs to be grateful that these people are not around to read her depiction of them.

When it comes to the rest of the book, either this part was missing in mine or the Author chose to ignore a definite historical fact, what happened to Middleham Castle where Anne and Richard spent a great deal of time and where their son was born?  Why does the Author have them constantly hanging out at Warwick Castle?  This is the main reason that this book received the 1 thumb review it has, the facts were either just not there or extremely loosely adapted for the book.

I can’t, with a clear conscience recommend this book to anyone, and I have a suspicion diehard fans of this Author may have a hard time liking this, amnd defintiely not like the review I have just written.  However, if you do enjoy reading about this period of time, and especially about the House of York (I wrote my Masters dissertation on them) I would highly recommend Sharon Kay Penman’s The Sunne in Splendour as it relies more on history and has some very strong characters.

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4 thoughts on “Review: The White Queen (The Cousins’ War #1) ~ Philippa Gregory

  1. I have to admit, I haven’t read this, but as I have read all of Sharon Penman’s books and loved them, having seen part of this on the TV, I decided that after reading such a stunning story as Sharon’s portrayal, I would give this a miss. Having read your review, I feel as though I made the right decision. I wish that the powers that be would turn Sharon’s books into films or series – but maybe they wouldn’t do justice to the books.

    Loretta Livingstone

    >

    • I’m not sure I would want to see any of Sharon’s books on the big screen. I owe everything she’s ever written and love them all, Sunne in Splendour and the Eleanor of Aquitaine books being my favourite. Like you I don’t think they would be able to do them justice.

  2. I saw the series on cable, which is very good. After that, I read this book. It hit me as being bland…I didn’t dislike reading it, nor did I truly enjoy it. I was inspired to learn more though about this time period. So I guess that’s a plus.

    • Thank you for your input, I always enjoy reading what other think about the books I review. Enjoy your learning experience to this time period, it can be fun and very enlightening 🙂

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