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The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
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The White Queen

by Philippa Gregory

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Cousins' War (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,7621951,955 (3.6)169
  1. 60
    The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman (DevourerOfBooks, kraaivrouw)
    DevourerOfBooks: Perhaps the best historical fiction on The War of the Roses.
    kraaivrouw: This is the one to read about the War of the Roses.
  2. 40
    The King's Grey Mare by Rosemary Hawley Jarman (Sakerfalcon, tina1969, KayCliff)
    Sakerfalcon: Another novel focusing on Elizabeth Woodville.
  3. 30
    Katherine by Anya Seton (cyderry)
    cyderry: this book explains how the Yorkist/Lancaster line split occurred.
  4. 41
    The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir (ddelmoni)
    ddelmoni: Non-fiction
  5. 20
    The Three Edwards by Thomas B. Costain (cyderry)
  6. 20
    The Last Plantagenets by Thomas B. Costain (cyderry)
  7. 10
    The Pleasure Palace by Kate Emerson (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Both lushly descriptive, compelling historical fiction series take place in Tudor-era England. Strong, well-developed female protagonists anchor these character-driven stories full of romantic drama, royal intrigue, and evocative period atmosphere.… (more)
  8. 10
    Figures in Silk by Vanora Bennett (joririchardson)
  9. 21
    The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory (tesskrose)
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» See also 169 mentions

English (192)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  All languages (195)
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
Phillipa Gregory books are like a drug. I need to kick the habit. Or maybe only one or 2 a year! ( )
  CSKteach | Jul 20, 2018 |
I am a big fan of Philippa Gregory. Her historical novels pull me in and keep me there until the last word on the last page. This is book 1 of the Cousin's War series. I have been reading them out of order, but now that I have done book 1 I might reread so that I can take the stories in order.

This is the story of Elizabeth Woodville, queen of King Edward of the House of York and mother of the famous princes in the towers. I have always loved the history of the English kings and am therefore familiar with all the stories in broad stoke. Gregory remains true to the history, but she paints in detail the possible personalities and emotions that these iconic characters must have experienced as human beings (albeit more ambitious and ruthless than your average man).

One of my favorite English history characters is Richard III. I fell in love with his mystery and the controversy of whether he was either deformed, evil or falsely accused the first time I read Shakespeare's account of his life. So many possible interpretations and so many gaps in the actual history of events. Richard is here, and it was fascinating to see what slant Gregory could offer to his character.

One of the things I love about Gregory is how consistent she is in keeping the voice of the individual and not lapsing into other points of view. When she is telling the story from the York side, she shows us what that side would have thought and felt, when she is telling from the Lancaster view it is the same. As is so true in life, there are two sides to the story and no two people involved sees everything clearly or the same. Regardless of which person she is portraying, she gives them depth and believability.

In this story, there was the historical element of Elizabeth and her mother having been accused of witchcraft, and their purported descendancy from the goddess Melusina. Gregory decided to build that belief that they may certainly have had that they were "seers" into the thread of the story and did so deftly. We may not believe that Elizabeth can whistle up a storm against her enemies, but I can certainly believe that a convenient storm that she has wished will come would seem to her like a proof of her inherited occult skills.

I have never sat down with a Gregory novel and come away dissatisfied. I almost sigh with pleasure before I have even flipped the first page. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
I was expecting a lot from this book, perhaps too much. I became weary of wars and plots and bloodlines and allegiances switching places from year to year. I couldn't keep all of it straight and I didn't feel compelled to stress about who was plotting against whom. The love story was somewhat lost in the mix. I did enjoy the few supernatural elements and I thought maybe they should have played a somewhat larger role. I don't think I'm going to continue the series. However, I am sincerely grateful to my Santathing person for sending it to me. ( )
  bcrowl399 | Jun 15, 2018 |
I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this book as of yet. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either.

The subject matter was definitely interesting. Elizabeth Woodville, as she is presented in this book, is a compelling, if not exactly likeable character. She knew what she wanted, and she fought hard to get and then keep it.

I mainly think the author's writing style and I did not get along. Things are often told and not shown, and at times that could get a little tedious. This is in part, I think, due to the use of first person for the majority of the book.

Also, I am not sure how I felt about the whole magic/witch aspect of the story. I know that both Elizabeth and her mother were accused of practicing witchcraft, but for magic to have played an actual role in the story? I just don't know.

I did like reading about the legend of Melusina, though.

I did enjoy this enough to want to check out the tv series based on this book, though. ( )
  stellar_raven | Jun 14, 2018 |
I rolled my eyes pretty heavily when The White Queen kicked off with the hoary romance trope of instalove. But it redeemed itself from that sin by not dragging out an endless will-they-or-won't-they in which we're supposed to believe that two adults with serious responsibilities (he as the king, she as a widowed mother to two small sons) would pine after each other for years based on one encounter. Instead we're supposed to believe that these same two adults would almost immediately fall in love and decide to marry...according to Gregory's author's note, because that's what they did. That they married in secret while Edward's advisors were trying to negotiate a marriage to a foreign princess for alliance purposes is a matter of historical fact. But to her credit, Gregory wraps up their "courtship" in a relatively short period of time and their actual marriage (and Elizabeth's life after his death) make up the bulk of the book.

Although Edward was a prolific adulterer, Gregory doesn't mine their relationship for drama. Elizabeth is not totally immune from jealousy, but she accepts that her husband is who he is and his philandering is only a minor plot point. The drama comes organically from the situation in which Elizabeth and Edward find themselves: the leaders of a tenuous dynasty, constantly threatened. Elizabeth even gives birth to her first son, also named Edward, in sanctuary (literally spending months living inside the walls of a church) because her husband has been temporarily foisted from the throne. With a background situation like that, she doesn't need to create problems in their marital relationship for intrigue.

Getting into War of the Roses material does help the Tudor era issues make more sense. Henry's desperation for a male heir is understandable when you realize that it was only with the marriage of Henry's father (a Lancaster) to his mother (a York) that there was any sort of sustainable-seeming peace in England after a generation of civil war. Henry was only the second Tudor king and there were men in England with equally persuasive claims to the throne. It wasn't just his personal desire for a son, it was a very real matter of societal security.

When I read The Creation of Anne Boleyn a while back, one of Susan Bordo's beefs with Philippa Gregory was that she'd alluded to Anne's guilt on some of the charges...specifically, that she might have slept with her brother in a desperate attempt to conceive an heir for Henry and save her own head. But it's not only to Anne that Gregory does this: her Katherine of Aragon is guilty of the charges that she'd consumated her marriage to Henry's brother Arthur, and in this book, Elizabeth Woodville and her mother are guilty of charges of witchcraft that are levied against them. I almost wonder if this is Gregory's way of pushing her audience out of their comfort zone a little. It makes us ask ourselves if they'd have "deserved" what they got, even if it were true. Did Anne deserve to die? Did Katherine deserve the cruelty she suffered at the end of her life? Did Elizabeth Woodville deserve to have her crown taken and her sons disinherited (and disappeared)? Even if it were true? ( )
  500books | May 22, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
[A] highly professional, highly enjoyable novel: stylistically plain, rhetorically straightforward, infinitely more interested in drawing readers into the life and immediacy of history than in pedantically mimicking period idioms.
 
Gregory's exhaustive research, lush detail and deft storytelling are all in top form here, making The White Queen both mesmerizing and historically rich.
added by Shortride | editPeople, Joanna Powell (Aug 24, 2009)
 

» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philippa Gregoryprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cottenden, JeffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, YuanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Li, CherlynneCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lyons, SusanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
In the darkness of the forest the young knight could hear the splashing of the fountain long before he could see the glimmer of moonlight reflected on the still surface. He was about to step forward, longing to dip his head, drink in the coolness, when he caught his breath at the sight of something dark, moving deep in the water. There was a greenish shadow in the sunken bowl of the fountain, something like a great fish, something like a drowned body. Then it moved and stood upright and he saw, frighteningly naked: a bathing woman. Her skin as she rose up, water coursing down her flanks, was even paler than the white marble bowl, her wet hair dark as a shadow.
She is Melusina, the water goddess, and she is found in hidden springs and waterfalls in any forest in Christendom, even in those as far away as Greece. She bathes in the Moorish fountains too. They know her by another name in the northern countries, where the lakes are glazed with ice and it crackles when she rises. A man may love her if he keeps her secret and lets her alone when she wants to bathe, and she may love him in return until he breaks his word, as men always do, and she sweeps him into the deeps, with her fishy tail, and turns his faithless blood to water.

The tragedy of Melusina, whatever language tells it, whatever tune it sings, is that a man will always promise more than he can do to a woman he cannot understand.

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Richard on my other side kneels too and mutters, as if he cannot be heard, "Is this the king? Really? He is the tallest man I have ever seen in my life!"

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Book description
Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They ruled before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women.

The White Queen tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville, a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition, who secretly marries the newly crowned boy king. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become the central figures in a famous unsolved mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the lost princes in the Tower of London.
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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.… (more)

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