Book Review: The White Queen

Murder. Intrigue. Betrayal. Romance. Author Philippa Gregory has made it her life’s mission to peel away the layers of history and present her readers with a fictionlized account of the Tudor legacy, the Elizabethan Age, and most recently, the story of the Plantagenets, the royal family that preceeded King Henry VIII’s reign over England.

The White Queen, Gregory’s latest novel, takes the reader back in time (almost 100 years before Anne stole Henry from Catherine, or Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth rose to power) to a period in which England is struggling to recognize its true king. Edward IV has defeated King Henry and has forced he and his wife, Queen Margaret of Anjou to flee to Scotland, and while in the process of claiming the crown for himself, meets a beautfiul blond widow. It is only after Edward falls in love and secretly marries the Lady Elizabeth Grey, a mere commoner with mystical ties to Melusina,  the water goddess), that suspicion and jealousy begins to taint their reign as king and queen, and eventually tears their family apart.

Gregory stays true to form, demonstrating the viper-like mentality of the royal court, and the hungry ambition that turns brother against brother and cousin against cousin. While many of her previous books have painted her heroines as victims of circumstance (as seen in movie adaption of her book,  The Other Boelyn Girl), Queen Elizabeth fights that stereotype fast and hard, battling it out behind the scenes to ensure that her two sons with Edward are not robbed of their birthright to be king.

Unfortunately, history tells us another story about Elizabeth. One of which has long become an urban legend regarding the possible murder of the two little princes and their mysterious disappearence from the Tower of London. (Were they killed by their uncle, King Richard, or at the hands of Henry VI, a powerful Tudor bent on taking over the thrown?) Gregory handily offers her own theories, while leaving the door open for future Plantagenet books.

Smartly paced and filled with enough historical drama to impress your college profs, The White Queen proves to be a new intriguing chapter in Gregory’s aresnal of historical fiction.

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