"You are locked to the throne of England and you have enslaved us too."
Sep 9, 2009
Philippa Gregory has brought a depth of perspective to some of the iconic female figures of English history, with impeccable research and an eye for the particular challenges of women in a male-dominated society. In The White Queen, Gregory recreates the life of Bess Woodville, the commoner who wins the affection of Edward IV as The Cousin's War (later The War of the Roses) roils the country in endless battles of succession for England's throne: "The sons of York will destroy each other, one brother destroying another." When first they meet, the virile Edward impulsively surrenders his heart to the clever and beautiful Elizabeth, who refuses to compromise her honor. Guided by her mother, Jacquetta, a self-ordained witch who claims blood ties to the mythical half-woman, half-sea creature, Melusina, and the royal family of Burgundy, Elizabeth parleys her very real passion for Edward into a political coup for her family, former Lancastrians turned Yorkist for their king.
Gregory's brilliant characterization of Elizabeth begins with the surprising romance between king and commoner, but, with Jaquetta's aid, Elizabeth astutely marries her family for maximum power, winning enemies in her enthusiasm, particularly the Kingmaker, the Earl of Warwick, Richard Neville. Weaving the myth of Melusina into the story allows a fresh perspective on the role of women, their secretive natures and the clever means by which they must accomplish their goals while seemingly following their husband's directives. This character is intimate with the highs and lows of fortune, the ecstasy of her coronation, the competition between brothers bound by blood, the civil wars that divide the country and the mysterious fate of her two sons, the princes in the Tower. In the words of her daughter, Elizabeth of York: "You are locked to the throne of England and you have enslaved us too."
Gregory offers perhaps one of the most cogent renderings of the Cousin's War in recent historical fiction, the carnage, ambition and manipulations that surround Edward- including those of his wife- as well as Warwick, George of Clarence and eventually young Richard, Duke of Gloucester (Richard III). Elizabeth endures the rise and fall of her husband's power, the challenges to his kingship and the ever-present threats of those who would seize the throne. Regardless of history's judgment, Elizabeth's voice rings clear, resolute in her own defense, twice scurrying to sanctuary to protect herself and her children, enduring the loss of her sons and her daughter Elizabeth's affection for her uncle, Richard III. Gregory's twist on the fate of the princes of the Tower adds yet another layer of speculation to a mystery that has fascinated scholars, as plausible- and tragic- as any other explanation. While the houses of Lancaster and York decimate a country desperate for peace, the indomitable Elizabeth Woodville suffers her trials and celebrates her victories, a woman of two worlds, distinguished daughter of Melusina, a commoner who reaches impossible heights, brought in check finally by the vagaries of fate. Luan Gaines/2009.
I am obsessed w/ this period in history, so I'm probably a little biasd, but I really enjoyed this book. I hadn't really heard or read much about Elizabeth Woodville, but her story was fascinating. During a time when England was at war, Elizabeth, who was a commoner, managed to make the new king fall in love with her, and they got married. She and her husband then spent the rest of their reign fighting off those who would put them off the throne, until her husbands death. … more
I've always liked Elizabeth Woodville, warts and all. I never expect her to be portrayed perfectly, mostly because a good deal of what she did herself was so imperfect. So it was with trepidation that I approached Philippa Gregory's take on this most enigmatic woman, The White Queen. Would she be portrayed as a she-wolf, a witch, a misunderstood wife/mother, or something altogether new? The answer is yes to all of these...and a good amount of no as well. Following EW from … more
I have anticipated the release of this book for quite awhile. Yesterday it finally arrived on my doorstep & I read late into the night. Had I not needed to get up to go to work I would have read a lot longer I'm sure ! Thus far I have to say that the "hype" over this book is worth it - this is one good read. Best of all this is the first book of a new series called the "Cousin's War" which chronicles events of the War of The Roses -especially (in this book) about Elizabeth Woodville, King Edward … more
An artist/writer, I have traveled the world, walked on the moon and learned the complicated language of humanity, the enormity of the universe... all through the written word. My first passport was a … more
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In this account of the wars of the Plantagenets, a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition, Elizabeth Woodville, catches 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.