Review: The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

the white princess

 

The White Princess opens as the news of the battle of Bosworth is brought to Princess Elizabeth of York, who will learn not only which rival royal house has triumphed, Tudor or York, but also which suitor she must marry: Richard III her lover, or Henry Tudor her enemy.

A princess from birth, Elizabeth fell in love with Richard III, though her mother made an arranged betrothal for her with the pretender to the throne: Henry Tudor. When Henry defeats Richard against all odds, Elizabeth has to marry the man who murdered her lover in battle, and create a new royal family with him and his ambitious mother: Margaret Beaufort, The Red Queen. But, while the new monarchy can win, it cannot, it seems, hold power in an England which remembers the House of York with love.

The new king’s greatest fear is that somewhere, outside England, a prince from the House of York is waiting to invade and re-claim the throne for the house of York. Fearing that none of his new allies can be trusted, Henry turns to his wife to advise him, all the time knowing that her loyalties must be divided. When the young man who would be king finally leads his army and invades England, it is for Elizabeth to decide whether she recognizes him as her brother and a claimant to the throne, or denies him in favor of the husband she is coming to love.

Description from Goodreads.

 

Expected publication: July 23rd 2013 by Touchstone

 

My review:

There were a few things in this story that stood out and I found interesting considering some of the history facts or speculations- if you will- that I know. In Gregory’s story Elizabeth of York and Richard lll were lovers. I don’t know a whole lot of details during this period but from what I heard there is evidence that Richard was extremely fond of Elizabeth, but not to the extent of being lovers.

Henry and his mother (Margaret Beaufort) were often times harsh, belittling, and unfeeling towards Elizabeth. That did not sit well with me at all. I felt that if Elizabeth would only wise up to the fact that she indeed had power, and if she would only discover it... (Did she discover that you ask? That is something you will have to find out.) I came to the conclusion early on in the story that maybe one of the reasons why she was treated as she was by her husband and mother-in-law…. was because they knew what power she could possibly wield and kept her down because of it. That is one way to look at it.

Gregory gives an interesting perspective of Henry’s character and it was a real issue for me. He became agitated, fearful and obsessed with being de throne. His behavior reminded me of someone on the edge of losing it completely. As I continued reading on I kept on thinking, “If Henry’s name or his obsession and fear of a pretender who could possibly over throw him was mentioned one more time I was wanting to jump right in the book and give him a good shake and a what for!

The overall dynamics of Henry, Margaret Beaufort and Elizabeth’s relationship is bold and complicated- in this story- to say the least. I did rather liked how Elizabeth’s character developed towards the end and the outcome of that. Elizabeth’s thoughts and feelings toward her husband and mother-in-law is certainly a complex one and she is someone I think we could all learn a thing or two from. Although it is in the present tense, it was interesting to read this story in her point of view. I felt it could have been presented to the reader a bit stronger than written.

History in my view tends to be subjective. Whether how an historian or an historical fiction writer is interpreting the past, the key is to make it believable. In historical fiction- readers asked themselves, “Could this have possibly have happen this way and does it blend well with the fictional aspects of the story?” “Or is it historically accurate?” As an avid reader of history and historical fiction-this story I did not always get that feeling, if you will. Although, in the author’s notes, Gregory says, “This book is written on a number of levels. It is a fiction about a mystery-so two steps from any historically recorded facts; but at the heart of it are some historical facts that you can rely on, or study for yourself.” So I will leave it up to you-the reader-to form your own opinions.

How this story was written and the characterization certainly has given me food for thought and I look forward to doing further research to draw my own conclusions. I recommend this novel to people who enjoy lite Historical Fiction.

Stephanie

 

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5 thoughts on “Review: The White Princess by Philippa Gregory”

  1. I enjoyed your review, Stephanie, and it has confirmed what I suspected, that PG has been quite scarce with historical truth as usual. There is absolutely no historical evidence that Elizabeth and Richard were lovers apart of some gossip that was immediately denied by Richard and by Elizabeth too. Not even the most obstinate writers and historians who think that Richard was a twisted evil man subscribe to this interpretation. It is true though that Elizabeth was treated with suspicion by her mother in law who considered herself the true queen and even insisted to walk behind the king and before Elizabeth. Also both Henry Tudor and his mother spent most of their life fearing a York upraising and systematically killing every single descendant and supporter of the House of York, not sparing old ladies or children/young adults. I’m not sure I’m going to read this novel. I’m already sizzling with rage every time I watch The White Queen. I accept a bit of free-hand and imagination in historical fiction, after all we do not really know what happened exactly behind doors, but at least historical facts and eye-witness reports should be respected. This re-writing history in spite of the historical evidence really disappoints me.

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