Recent Read: The White Queen

By Erin MacNeil - 03:00

I feel like, at this point, we all know Philippa Gregory and what to expect. On top of that, if you're into Tudor history then you already know the ending. Actually, the fact that we even have that part of British history termed as Tudor History is a bit of a spoiler - not so much for this book, but for bits of the series in general. It's not a good spoiler, but still. So, we know Philippa Gregory, we know we're in for some historical fiction, and we know there is going to be a fair amount of battle, deception, and sex. But what else can be expected from The White Queen?

The White Queen is about Elizabeth Woodville, a woman who married King Edward IV in secret (and, eventually, becomes grandmother to a boy named Henry who became Henry VIII) and becomes queen consort until Edward's untimely death. During this time the House of York faces great instability in their claim to the throne, battles, and a growing number of heirs, all of whom unseat Edward's super-not-jealous brothers in their claims to the English throne. The White Queen chronicles Elizabeth's struggles to both keep her children safe and to keep safe their rightful place as the royal family.

Honestly, I'm not a Yorkist, I fully support the Lancasters in the cousins war. Maybe it's a bias because (spoiler) the Lancasters win, but that's just life. So, I did have a difficult time getting on board with a story about the attempt to keep the Yorks on the throne. That, paired with the element of mythology intertwined with the Woodville women, resulted in my taking a very long time to finish The White Queen and not really enjoying it.

But, beyond that, I think my main issue with the book is that Elizabeth was not particularly interesting to me. While I did appreciate parts of the story, I don't know if her story deserved its own book. Topics such as Elizabeth's meeting and secret marriage to Edward, or the disappearance of her two sons while being held in the Tower of London would have made really interesting pieces, but I didn't really want the middle bits of the story. Ideally, those interesting moments would have made great novellas or short stories or something like that.

Ultimately, I think the basics of Elizabeth Woodville's life are more interesting than the historical fiction version of her life. All that said, however, Philippa Gregory's stories are always really well done. She researches really thoroughly and really brings history to life when she writes. Unfortunately, this particular book is not my cup of tea, but it is well done, well researched, and well imagined. Plus, it's always nice to believe that at least one of those two princes lived.

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