This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands,-- This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. ~~William Shakespeare, Richard III

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Book Review: The White Queen

So I couldn't hold off doing my review of this book. I have found I really enjoy reviewing books so don't be surprised to see them popping up here more than at the end of the month now! is my review of Philippa Gregory's newest book The White Queen.

The White Queen, Philippa Gregory
3 roses

While I enjoy reading Gregory's books because they're decently entertaining for the most part I do wish she'd quit insisting she was such a wonderful historian. If this constant insisting that she does such "impeccable research" would go away, I could stomach her books better. This book was better than the last one but it wasn't outstanding.

The story covers a time period of about 20 years (give or take a few) starting from when Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville meet up until its almost time for Bosworth Field. This could have been a very good book but there were a few things that really irritated me. The first issue I had was the constant repeating of certain aspects of the story she obviously didn't want the reader to forget (perhaps she thinks all her readers are dumb and she must repeat everything?). She refers to Edward repeatedly as a "boy" for several chapters at the beginning (yes, a 20-something young man can certainly act like a boy but technically would not be considered one, ESPECIALLY in the 15th century). By about the third chapter I felt like if she mentioned Elizabeth's family connection to Melusina (a water goddess for those that are unfamiliar with the name) one more time I was going to go hop in a fountain somewhere. She also couldn't keep Elizabeth from constantly referring to the fact that she had Warkwick and George's names, in her blood, in her locket, and she would get her revenge. The water imagery got old after a while as well. Really, I got all these points the first time I read them and I don't need to be reminded every couple of paragraphs. While I didn't really have a big problem with the magic element in the story since it wasn't completely over the top (and there has always been speculation about her mother and witchcraft), I found myself rolling my eyes quite a bit over the convenient "let's blow gently out of our lips and a nice storm will blow up somewhere in England or the Channel to stop our enemies." At least she didn't have them in a cellar somewhere huddled over a bubbling pot.

I also really never felt any connection with any of the characters. In TOBG, while I knew there were huge historical inaccuracies (HUGE), I actually cared about what happened to the characters. Not so here. There really didn't seem to be any dimension to them whatsoever. I was satisfied with her portrayal of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. She didn't make him seem like a horrible monster but he didn't come across as saintly. As this story was from Elizabeth's POV and she didn't really like Richard at all, that was to be expected and I thought that aspect was well done.

As to her being considered such a great historian, one thing really jumped out at me that makes me question how thorough she is with some topics. At one point Elizabeth mentions they're going to Nonsuch Palace. Nonsuch was started by her grandson, Henry VIII (around 1538 if I'm not mistaken). Anyone can go to the internet, type in "Nonsuch Palace," and get this information. Some might consider that a bit nit picky on my part but in my opinion, if you're going to call yourself a great historian, at least have your characters going to places that existed at the time.

Overall, I'm glad I only checked it out of the library. It wasn't horrible by any stretch but I still prefer Sharon Kay Penman's "The Sunne in Splendour" which covers this same time period.

And I swear the covers of her books get worse and worse.


  1. I love the "bubbling pot" comment!

  2. I've been disappointed with the last couple of Gregory's I read so I only borrowed this one as well. Haven't read it yet though.