Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The White Queen

Philippa Gregory really is a master when it comes to writing historical fiction. She can make the past come alive like very few authors can. I remember really wanting to read this book when it came out, but completely forgot about until I saw it in the library last week.  The White Queen, while not as good as the Boleyn series, was still a spellbinding read. I felt like I was transported back to the time of King Edward and Queen Elizabeth. Even though I knew how the book ended, I was still captivated by the story that was told by the Queens point of view.

The Story:
It's easy to forget, but the the current royal family, The Tudors weren't always in power in England. Before them, there was another royal family that is easily forgotten-The Plantagenets.  In a masterfully told story, we are shown what it was like to have brother against brother and cousin against cousin and how confusing it was to keep track of who was on whose side, even for those in power.

The White Queen tells the story from Elizabeth Woodville-the women who would become Queen viewpoint. The story begins with the background of Elizabeth- while she is a descendant  from Burgundy royalty, she lost her husband in the war to put a Lancaster on the throne of England. Her dower from her marriage has been taken from her,  and she wants it back. So when the newly crowned York King passes through her village, she and her family plan to meet with the King to get her dowerage (is that the right term?) back to her and her sons. The King is captivated by her, and they marry in secret and she is capitulated into the royal family. This leads to jealousy from those families who think that her family isn't good enough to be royal, and lots of intrigue. She becomes the center of the ultimate mystery of the ages as her sons become the missing princes in the Tower of London-whose whereabouts are still unknown to this day.

My Thoughts:
Like all of Philippa Gregory's books, I immediately wanted to start doing research of my own to find out what really happened and to get more information on the royal family-but I stopped myself from going to google countless number of times because I didn't want to ruin the story once I learned what really happened. I knew how the story ended-but had trouble remembering how it all happened.  One of the things that I loved most about this book was that the heroine while doubting herself and actions at times, remained strong and true to her word while still being likable-which in itself is amazing, as this Queen wasn't one of the more likable Queens in British history. When I read books by this author I always feel like I feel like what it must have been like to have been a member of the royal family-and I have to say I don't think it would have been all that fun.

While I enjoyed this book a lot, I thought it could have ended a hundred pages sooner, but I know that most of it was to set up the next story in the series. The foreshadowing in the book was so obvious that even I got it, and by the end was like "I get what you're doing-hexes and curses are bad, and can backfire." However, I think a lot of the foreshadowing toward the end was for the next book in the series. I hate it when authors do this.  On Goodreads, I gave this a 3.0 rating but it was more of a 3.9 rating because by the end of the book I was a tad bored with the story, mainly because I was familiar with this story in history. (I love the mystery of the missing princes in the tower) I also thought it took forever to get to the missing princes part and felt she twisted events to make for a good conspiracy-which worked well for the story and did make me stop and wonder who really was behind the disappearance of the princes.  While this was not my favorite of Philippa Gregory's book, I'm eagerly waiting the next book in the series.

Swoon worthy Meter: Medium
Sigh Meter: Medium
Number of times I wanted to grab a book of English History: Lost count!

This book counts toward the Support your local library challenge hosted by  J Kayes Book Blog and the Typically British Challenge hosted by Book Chick City-which I joined because I realized with the Marple, Holmes, Poirot Challenge I'd be able to complete this with no trouble.