Friday, February 11, 2011

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Much like Gregory's book "The Red Queen," I liked it but didn't love it. I enjoyed learning more about Elizabeth Woodville, because it seems the majority of books mention her, but don't really get into much detail about her life. She's pretty much known as the mother of the "princes in the tower," and the mother of the future Queen of England, Elizabeth, who marries Henry VII and unites the Yorks and Plantagenets. She was also known to be absolutely beautiful, and her beauty caused Edward IV to fall in love with her almost at first sight, and marry her soon after, even though she wasn't royalty, and she was a widow who already had two children and was several years older than Edward IV.
I like that Gregory gave an in depth understanding of Elizabeth Woodville, because like I said, I didn't really know that much about her from other books she has been mentioned in. "The White Queen" was well written of course, and I think it was overall historically correct, but there were a couple of things that annoyed me. The first thing that was a little over the top for me, was the frequent references to Melusina. I guess she descended in some way from Melusina, who was some type of water goddess? Anyways, this brought kind of a fantasy element to the book, and it made it seem as though Elizabeth Woodville dabbled in witchcraft. I'm not exactly sure whether she did or didn't, but I'm thinking that people, especially women who were in the public eye, probably tried to stay away from witchcraft and the worshipping of a pagan goddess. I could be wrong on this one, but it was just a little annoying that she was casting spells and crazy stuff in this book! Another thing that bothered me, was the light in which Richard III was shown in. He is portrayed as an evil man who is overly ambitious and a murderer. I understand that there has been much debate on whether or not he killed the princes in the tower, but he really had no reason to do so, the boys had been declared bastards, so killing them wouldn't do anything to benefit him. However, I realize that there is still a huge debate over who would have had the best motive to kill the princes, and it is something that will never be figured out, so while I might be biased in the direction of it NOT being Richard III, there are many others who believe that it WAS him.
She comes across as kind of unlikable in this book, and sometimes it's hard for me to get into a book when I don't really like the main character. That wasn't really the case with this book though, because it was interesting to see who Elizabeth Woodville might have really been, and what she might have really been like. She's a fascinating woman, who obviously was ambitious and charismatic to have won Edward IV's heart, and to have kept it up until his death. Also, the fact that the royalty of England descended partly from her for over a hundred years to come is pretty fascinating.
This wasn't a book that I couldn't put down, but I did want to keep reading it, and to keep learning more about who Philippa Gregory believed she was as a person. I read "The White Queen" and "The Red Queen" back to back, and of the two books, I'd have to say I enjoyed "The Red Queen" more. I feel like Margaret Beaufort's life was more fascinating, and that she was a more cunning woman, who could match wits with any man of her time. I haven't done much research on either of the women these two books are written about, so I don't know how historically correct they are, but from Gregory's other books it seems like she does like to keep things more on the side of historical correctness than not. And although this book wasn't completely riveting, it did pique my interest about Elizabeth Woodville's life, and I have been looking into more books about her.

No comments:

Post a Comment