The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Fantastic book! Phillippa Gregory did not disappoint. The White Queen is the first in a series about the Cousin's Wars (Wars of the Roses) in 15th century England. More specifically, it is the story of Elizabeth Woodville, a beautiful woman who claims ties to Melusina, the water goddess, and who claims to have the "Sight."
Elizabeth becomes Queen of England when she marries Edward IV. After requesting the king restore her late husband's property to her, she falls in love with him during a time when marriages were usually arranged by families. The marriage is kept secret until Edward establishes his reign over England. Only then is the marriage announced and Elizabeth allowed to come to court. Elizabeth, who had two sons before she became a widow, gives Edward ten children, three of them sons. One of her daughters dies while in sanctuary. One of the sons also dies very young. When her husband, the King, and her brother, the prince's protector, are killed by the youngest York heir (her brother-in-law), Elizabeth's own son, the rightful king, is in danger along with his younger brother when their uncle Richard becomes king.
With Richard on the throne, Elizabeth's marriage to Edward is declared null and her children have no claim to the throne. The two little princes are assumed dead while in their uncle's care in the Tower. There is no proof; however, that either died, and it is suggested that Elizabeth was able to hide her middle son with a peasant family.
The plot seems convoluted, but Gregory does not leave out details as I have done so as not to spoil the book for any potential readers. This is a book filled with rich detail about the time period. The author transports the reader to the fifteenth century so that you can see, hear, smell, and experience the culture. The book is one of romance, love, war, family betrayal, politics, brutality, and women's influence. While the facts are given, Gregory's fictionalized elements bring the characters to life.
Gregory captures the reader's interest. It is difficult to put this book down. Not only is the story compelling, her writing is impeccable. I can't wait to read the Kingmaker's Daughter and the White Princess!
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