Author: Philippa Gregory
Pages: 432 (hardcover)
Release date: August 18, 2009 (hardcover)/April 6, 2010 (paperback)
Publisher: Touchstone Books (Simon & Schuster)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
A big fan of Philippa Gregory's books, I was very much looking forward to cracking the spine on the first in her Plantagenet series, chronicling the life of the ancestors of the Tudor monarchs and their rise to power.
The story begins in the midst of the War of the Roses (excerpt from Philippa Gregory's official website):
The first in a stunning new series, The Cousins’ War, is set amid the tumult and intrigue of the Wars of the Roses. Internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings this extraordinary family drama to vivid life through its women – beginning with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.
Elizabeth Woodville, of the House of Lancaster, is widowed when her husband is killed in battle. Aided and abetted by the raw ambition and witchcraft skills of her mother Jacquetta, Elizabeth seduces and marries, in secret, reigning king Edward IV, of the family of the white rose, the House of York. As long as there are other claimants to Edward’s throne, the profound rivalries between the two families will never be laid to rest. Violent conflict, shocking betrayal and murder dominate Elizabeth’s life as Queen of England, passionate wife of Edward and devoted mother of their children.A love match between Elizabeth and Edward, a rare thing in royal family trees, brings a touch of romance to the novel. One of Gregory's great strengths lies in her ability to bring historical characters to life as she weaves fact and fiction. However, as much of the novel takes place on the battlefield Gregory doesn't give us as much of Elizabeth Woodville's first person perspective as I would have liked but it's still quite an enjoyable read.
Having enjoyed Gregory's books about this period in English history, it was a special thrill to revisit the Tower of London on my most recent visit to that great city. Walking through the same gates through which these historical figures were led and roaming the halls, history came to life in this humble tower, the site of incredible bloodshed and grief over the centuries and a critical background player in Gregory's novels.
The White Queen will be released in paperback on April 6 and, while it's not my favourite of Gregory's books, it's a wonderful read that any lover of historical fiction will not want to miss.