The White Queen by Philippa Gregory: Review

It ain't easy being Queen. Especially if you happen to be a queen in Philippa Gregory's novels. I wouldn't want that job for a million dollars.

In the latest dramarama, The White Queen, Elizabeth Woodville lost her husband in the never ending Cousin's War between the Lancastrians and the Yorks. Elizabeth must petition her family's enemy, the present king, Edward York for her lost land. He falls for her and marries her right away, forever altering her life. Elizabeth becomes Queen of England but it's a hard won title. The Lancastrians and Yorks continue to fight each other for the crown. Often it is brother against brother.

Elizabeth, a woman whose family has little power but great numbers, must rely on her relatives and the magic inherited through their ancient ancestress, as well as her husband's ruthless ambition to hold the crown. But there is a heavy price to be paid. It will cost Elizabeth everything she holds dear.

First off, the story isn't near as scandalous as Wideacre or even The Other Boleyn Girl. The focus isn't so much on the relationship between Elizabeth and Edward but on the quest for power. There are only a couple clandestine gropings in the shadows then it's down to war business. And there is a lot of war business. Elizabeth spends much of her time waiting at home biting her nails wondering if she's about to be tossed out of the castle- or worse.

The White Queen was enjoyable but it didn't keep me on the edge of my seat. I found parts were a bit repetitive: the references to Melusina for one. However, the magical aspects didn't really bother me. I could believe that the women in the story would believe that they could use magic to change things. Although as a reader, I think what happens is coincidental (as do some of the characters in the story) and not the result of witchcraft.

Anyway, it is worth reading this fictionalized account of a somewhat unknown Queen of England.

Recommended for Philippa Gregory fans.


  1. I'm kind of glad to hear you didn't find this one as scandalous as Wideacre--your review of that book was hilarious! I have this one coming to me, so I'll keep in mind that this might not be Gregory's best to date.

  2. I remember thinking that I was glad I wasn't a Queen either.

  3. Unknown Queen???

    My historical bias might be showing. ;)

  4. Don't tell anyone, but I've never read any of Philippa Gregory's work. One of my neighbors was horrified when I told her. I do want to give one a try one day. Sounds like I should start with The Other Boleyn Girl.

  5. Trish- Not my favorite but better then a couple of her other ones.

    Bluestocking- Yeah, I can never figure out why they're so anxious to be queen.

    Carrie- Well, she's no Anne Boleyn.

    Kathy- The scandal!! Yes, start with The Other Boleyn Girl.

  6. I found it impossible to relate to this queen. Mary Boleyn? Sure. Anne Boleyn? Sort of. Elizabeth beautiful-but-mad-for-power? Not so much.
    Not only does she marry the guy that slaughters half her family, but she throws her non-royal sons under the bus in order to try to get the little princeling back. And then she's willing to force her daughters to live in exile all their lives rather than lower herself to being a noble rather than a queen. Seems downright selfish. I really found it hard to feel bad for her, especially since she kept inciting wars on her own account and sending her non-royal sons out into the line of fire, and then being royally (excuse the pun) pissed off when she lost. No wonder she was one of England's least popular queens.

  7. I have a hard time with Gregory's fictional accounts.

    I watched about five minutes of The Other Boleyn Girl on TV and it showed Mary Boleyn coming in as Anne held baby Elizabeth for the first time. I don't think so. Mary was married off and sent away when Henry decided he had to marry Anne, because he didn't want anyone to say he'd committed incest, as with his first wife.

    That said, wasn't this Elizabeth the mother of the two princes who vanished and then Richard III became king?

  8. Karen- Yes, that's toward the end of the book. She definitely picks and chooses from history to make the story more interesting.

  9. Alice- Yes, especially since she came from nothing. I didn't know why she wanted her kids to be royalty.

  10. I enjoyed this one. Nice review. The witchcraft didn't bother me either, but I could have done without it.


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