Sunday, November 3, 2013

Review: The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

Caught between loyalties, the mother of the Tudors must choose between the red rose and the white.

When Henry Tudor picks up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth field, he knows he must marry the princess of the enemy house - Elizabeth of York - to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades.

But his bride is still in love with his slain enemy, Richard III - and her mother and half of England dream of a missing heir, sent into the unknown by the White Queen. While the new monarchy can win power, it cannot win hearts in an England that plots for the triumphant return of the House of York.

Henry's greatest fear is that somewhere a prince is waiting to invade and reclaim the throne. When a young man who would be king leads his army and invades England, Elizabeth has to choose between the new husband she is coming to love and the boy who claims to be her beloved lost brother: the rose of York coming home at last.

Hardcover, 528 pages

Published July 23rd 2013 by Touchstone 

I think every review that I do for a Philippa Gregory book usually starts with me saying how she is the one that introduced me to historical fiction.  Her book The Other Boleyn Girl was the first I read and it is part of her Tudor Court series. 

The White Princess is the 5th book in The Cousins' War Series. This series started with The White Queen, which is the story of Elizabeth's mother, also named Elizabeth. Part of me feels that this book, The White Princess is the continuation of The White Queen.  I loved the ending of The White Queen, how it gave a totally different theory of what could have happened to the Princes in the tower.  We will never know exactly what happened to them, but it is interesting reading about different theories (no matter how outlandish). Even though it is part of a series, it could be read as a stand alone also.

I will begin with what one I liked about this book and this revolves around Perkin Warbeck.  Gregory told an interesting theory that I found plausible and she did write it with feeling and emotion.

I purchased The White Princess as soon as it was released back in July, I tried numerous times to read it, but just couldn't get into it.  The first chapter set a tone that annoyed me to no end.  It was flat and boring, Elizabeth pining away for Richard constantly.  So not wanting to give up I went for the audio version. It helped (alot).  The reader did a good job of reading, though at times a little slow.  The story itself lacked emotion and it wasn't until the last 1/3 of the book that I felt it really picked up.  Once Warbeck showed up (I felt) the writing got a better, it was an interesting story line (though at times a little repetitive) but it had some emotion that this book needed.

Back to Elizabeth, really I do have to give her some credit, given no choice in her life she did the best she could given the situation - being married to a King who might have or might not have been involved in the disappearance of her brothers, taking the crown away from her true love and having to deal with the King's mother too.

I know this is historical FICTION, but when you know certain facts that are true then it is hard to read otherwise.  Henry is portrayed here as a weak King, always looking over his shoulders waiting for a York prince to pop up and take his crown away. I also believed that the marriage of Henry and Elizabeth was a loving one, though this book ends at the end of Perkin Warbeck's story, things could very well have changed for them both at that point and they fell in love (again).

I guess that you could say I had mixed feelings about this book.  I ended up giving it 3 1/2 stars rounding up to 4 (why can't you give half stars on goodreads?) 

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