The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

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RATING: 4.5/5

BLURB: “Somewhere beyond the shores of England, a Pretender is mustering an army. He claims to be brother to the Queen, and the true heir to the throne. But is he the lost boy sent into the unknown by his mother, the White Queen? Or a counterfeit Prince – a low-born enemy to Henry Tudor and his York Princess wife? 

When Henry Tudor picked up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth Field, he knew he would have to marry the princess of the royal house – Elizabeth of York – in an effort to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades. But his bride was still in love with his enemy – and her mother and half of England still dreamed of a missing heir and a triumphant return for the house of York. The new Queen Elizabeth has to decide if she can stand by a King whose support and courage are crumbling before her eyes. She has to choose between Tudor and York, between her new husband and the boy who claims to be her beloved lost brother: the rose of York come home at last.”

REVIEW: I should start by pointing out the fact that, although I always thoroughly  enjoy the historical novels of Philippa Gregory, I have found it necessary to always take them with a large helping of salt. I haven’t read much about Elizabeth of York, but what I have read has always made her seem to be a largely placid, innocent figure and a docile Queen. Gregory made Elizabeth much more likeable and even engaging – within the novel she is obedient, as women at the time unfortunately had to be, but she also has a spirit and warm, loving nature that creates much more of a connection with the reader. However, there are many areas in which Gregory embellishes the rumours of history with artistic licence, and she has chosen to use some interpretations of different historical events that aren’t necessarily those I believe in – for example, Gregory uses the scandalous rumours of Richard III’s romance with his niece, Elizabeth of York, to create the degree of Yorkist sympathy needed to make Elizabeth’s fate interesting to the reader. Her views of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York’s marriage, including rumours over the premature birth of Prince Arthur, were shocking, yet extremely engaging – we know very little about the feelings within their marriage, yet I truly enjoyed the way Gregory portrays their romantic dynamic, and would even suggest that her version is probably quite close to the truth. Although I did disagree with some of her interpretations of events, I really enjoyed the book – as much as I have enjoyed the previous novels in the Cousin’s War series – and would recommend it to any lovers of history, as long as you’re not looking for complete historical accuracy!

 

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