The White Queen – Philippa Gregory

Title: The White Queen
Author: Philippa Gregory
ISBN: 9781416563686
Pages: 432
Release Date: August 18, 2009
Publisher: Touchstone
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

From the publisher’s website:

Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.

I love Philippa Gregory.  I don’t think all her book are perfect (indeed, I haven’t read any of her pre-Tudor novels and I found The Other Queen [review] to be quite disappointing).  I sometimes take issue with the prejudices she exhibits with regards to certain characters within her novels.  But if you have read her books, you cannot deny that she really is a master of the historical fiction genre.  She makes history comes alive, makes the characters seem like they are real, and makes the settings as vivid as ever.

I’ve been taking more and more of an interest in the Wars of the Roses, so when I heard Gregory’s next project was a trilogy about this very subject, I was very excited.  I’ve read a lot about Elizabeth Woodville lately, and most of it has been bad.  Her sheer ambition makes her a difficult character to sympathize with.  However, in The White Queen, Gregory accomplishes what I thought was impossible –she made Elizabeth Woodville a sensitive and sympathetic character.  Gregory never dials down Elizabeth’s ambition; in many ways, she is as despicable as history has judged her.  But Gregory gives her a voice and a personality; despite her flaws, I actually did like her.  That’s a hard thing to do and it really emphasizes how talented of a writer Philippa Gregory is.

I knew most of the history going into The White Queen.  It is understandable, then, that I found myself surprised by the sheer suspense I felt.  I knew what was going to happen, yet Gregory’s superb writing style still managed to keep me on the edge, to keep me desperately reading so I could find out what would happen!  I also appreciated her unique interpretation of the plight of the princes in the Tower, and what happened to them.

As you can tell, I was a really big fan of The White Queen and simply cannot wait for the next two books in the series.  This book proves that Gregory really is one of the best historical fiction writers out there, and that she can write competently about more than just the Tudors.  I imagine this book will be controversial because of some of the liberties Gregory took with history, but it honestly didn’t bother me.  There is a solid Author’s Note at the back of the book explaining the history behind the novel, as well as a bibliography.  Still, if you are particular about authors sticking to the facts, you might be annoyed with this book.

I highly recommend The White Queen to…well, pretty much everyone!  If you’re a fan of historical fiction, but haven’t read any Philippa Gregory, this is a great place to start.  If you aren’t familiar with historical fiction, this novel will show you why people enjoy the genre so much.  And if you’re a fan of Philippa’s, as I am, definitely pick up this book.  Trust me, it’s a good one.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book to review!

Comments

  1. I have not read Philippa Gregory yet, but I am so glad to hear that this would be a great place to start. Thanks for the wonderful review!

  2. I have not read Philippa Gregory yet, but I am so glad to hear that this would be a great place to start. Thanks for the wonderful review!

  3. Your review is positively fantastic! Mine pales in comparison! I agree with you that this was a terrific example of historical fiction. It had a little bit of everything!

  4. Your review is positively fantastic! Mine pales in comparison! I agree with you that this was a terrific example of historical fiction. It had a little bit of everything!

  5. I’m really excited about this one after hearing how much more people are liking it than Gregory’s less than stellar “The Other Queen.” Bonus: no way for her to talk crap on Elizabeth I!

  6. I’m really excited about this one after hearing how much more people are liking it than Gregory’s less than stellar “The Other Queen.” Bonus: no way for her to talk crap on Elizabeth I!

  7. I enjoy Gregory — even when she gets things a bit wrong — because, as you pointed out, she makes history come alive. I was so glad to read Meghan’s review today and to learn that Gregory got most things right here.

  8. I enjoy Gregory — even when she gets things a bit wrong — because, as you pointed out, she makes history come alive. I was so glad to read Meghan’s review today and to learn that Gregory got most things right here.

  9. This book seems to have great reviews everywhere. I just finished The Other Boleyn Girl but I was so put off that I went back to watching reruns of Tudors 🙂 Though I am not much of hist-fic fan I might read this one.Thanks for the review..

  10. This book seems to have great reviews everywhere. I just finished The Other Boleyn Girl but I was so put off that I went back to watching reruns of Tudors 🙂 Though I am not much of hist-fic fan I might read this one.Thanks for the review..

  11. You know, you might have convinced me to give this a try… I have liked a couple of her books, but generally I can’t be bothered to read her anymore…

  12. You know, you might have convinced me to give this a try… I have liked a couple of her books, but generally I can’t be bothered to read her anymore…

  13. I really enjoyed this one too, and will definitely read the rest of the series.

  14. I really enjoyed this one too, and will definitely read the rest of the series.

  15. Everyone seems to love this book. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read any of the author’s work.

  16. Everyone seems to love this book. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read any of the author’s work.

  17. Great review! I’ve received this book last week and I can’t wait to read it!

  18. Great review! I’ve received this book last week and I can’t wait to read it!

  19. Glad you liked it too! The sympathetic portrayal of Elizabeth Woodville was certainly the best aspect of it for me too. She’s still ambitious, but somehow in a way that we understand.

  20. Glad you liked it too! The sympathetic portrayal of Elizabeth Woodville was certainly the best aspect of it for me too. She’s still ambitious, but somehow in a way that we understand.

  21. M. :L. Kiner says:

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  22. M. :L. Kiner says:

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  23. Anonymous says:

    I need to get this review up, too! I enjoyed it a great deal and The White Queen is SO much better than The Other Queen. (I still kinda feel like Gregory’s pumping these books out too fast though. The editing doesn’t seem as tight as first few novels. Maybe it’s just me.)

    ~Suzi
    Fashionista Piranha

  24. Anonymous says:

    I need to get this review up, too! I enjoyed it a great deal and The White Queen is SO much better than The Other Queen. (I still kinda feel like Gregory’s pumping these books out too fast though. The editing doesn’t seem as tight as first few novels. Maybe it’s just me.)

    ~Suzi
    Fashionista Piranha

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