Thursday, February 10, 2011

The White Queen by Phililppa Gregory

The White Queen is the first in Gregory’s series chronicling the War of Roses (or Cousins War) in which the Lancasters and the Yorks endlessly found each other, and eventually themselves in pursuit of the throne. In the White Queen we are first introduced to the widowed Elizabeth Woodville and follow her controversial marriage to Kind Edward IV and their struggle to maintain control of England through to the eventual rise of Richard III (also of the house of York).

Gregory weaves her story through major gaps in historical knowledge and I think that she does an excellent job of marrying sometimes difficult to follow historical timelines and facts with fiction. At the centre of Gregory’s White Queen is the idea of powerful and ruthless women, family loyalties (or lack there of) and the question of whether wealth and power are enough to grant happiness.

I found the first third of the book to read a little like a history textbook as we were introduced to characters, battles, loyalties, and rivalries but once I got through this section I found that the story really took over. I quite enjoyed the way Gregory told this story but I can see how some would find the amount of historical details to be tiresome. As a history major the amount of historical details is part of what pulled me in. I don’t know if the White Queen is for everyone, but for those with a strong interest in historical fiction I think it’s a good read.

All in all I give it 3.5/5


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