The White Queen – Book Review

The White Queen, the grandmother of one of England’s greatest monarchs of all time Henry VIII, a formidable woman to be reckoned with.  Being set in the 1470s it is full of the pomp and pageantry which is associated with the era while staying true to the events of the Wars of the Roses (Gregory herself studied history at university and her clear passion for the subject is evident in her writing) her writing style descriptive and mesmerising, drawing the reader in as if Elizabeth herself is telling you her own story.  While being an initially imposing book due to its size, once you start reading you can’t stop.

I was recommended Gregory’s novels by my history teacher for further reading as she said it would be great for giving me context for my studies of Henry VII and VIII and understand the reasoning behind the situation they found their selves in on their accession to the throne.

Elizabeth Woodville is often forgotten and out shadowed by her son, but mainly her grandson’s doing – Woodville was a strong and feisty woman and not being of particularly noble birth faced threats on the throne from many different people, namely the Earl of Warwick who believed he had more influential power over the King.  Gregory does well at presenting Elizabeth’s growing dislike of Warwick and his constant scheming, this is helped considerably by the first person narrative she installs in telling Elizabeth’s story – we really learn how Elizabeth would be feeling at certain times in the novel helping us sympathise with the main protagonist.

The TV adaptation stayed relatively true to the book (and the history of this country) although with pretty much every book-to-film series details were lost, mainly living up to Gregory’s vivid description.  I did feel like the beginning few chapters of the book were a lot more detailed than the TV portrayed, the book in some way seemed more romantic about the opening and presented the chivalry of the time in a more starry-eyed way.

This book really was a great read, the opening (being my favourite part) really set the scene of 1400s England and the times and traditions of the land.  The sorceress elements were interesting and with Gregory’s explanation of the myth in the back after the bibliography it tied the story together nicely.  Although anyone who has studied this time period knows the outcome Gregory still keeps it interesting and exciting, ‘The White Queen’ was a great read and sets the bar highly for its successor’s in the series.

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