I am a fan of historical fiction in general and Phlippa Gregory specifically. I think my love for historical fiction first started when I read the Little House on the Prairie series and the autobiographies of famous folks in elementary school. After reading these true life tales, I longed for something more. I read every historical fiction book I could find and by my teenage years I was entertained by the works of John Jakes, Jean Plaidy, and Anya Seton among others. I am always excited to find a new historical novelist that I enjoy, and about five or more years ago I discovered Philippa Gregory. Gregory has written a fantastic series based on the Tudors that included The Other Boleyn Girl amongst others.
I love English history and am fascinated by the Tudors, but I will admit, I was beginning to hope that Gregory would move on to a new dynasty. Luckily in The White Queen, Gregory has done just that and written a riveting account of Elizabeth Woodville, the wife and Queen of Edward IV, the mother of the two princes in the tower, and one of the major players in the War of the Roses.
Elizabeth is a young widow and mother when she first meets the King. They fall in love, but she refuses to be with him unless he marries her first. He gives in and they have a secret wedding. This secret wedding and Elizabeth’s family’s growing power drives a wedge between King Edward and his cousin Warwick, the “kingmaker.” The country goes through much turmoil and Elizabeth does what she can to survive.
I realized through the book that I felt really bad for the “common” people that lived during this time. With brother against brother, treason, constant warfare, it must have been hard to just survive. The War of the Roses was certainly no bed of roses.
I love how often in her novels Gregory takes a rumor that was floating around about a Queen and says that it was exactly the case. In this book, the rumor was that Elizabeth Woodville was a witch. She does practice a couple of pagan rites as passed down to her by her mother, although she is a Christian.
I don’t want to ruin the end of the novel, but I love Gregory’s sequence of events. I was left hanging at the end though as I really want to know what happens next in Gregory’s version of the tale. It looks like this series will continue!
Overall a great read for lovers of historical fiction and fans of Gregory. The book felt a bit rushed at times because there was just so much happening during these troubled times. If you loved this book and want to read more about the time period, I highly recommend The King’s Daughter: A Novel of the First Tudor Queen and Lady of the Roses both by Sandra Worth. If you’d like to read other Gregory books, I recommend The Queen’s Fool, one of my favorites.