Book Review: The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

The White Princess (The Cousins' War #5) The White Princess (Cousins’ War #5) by Philippa Gregory

Hardcover

Copy provided by publisher

Simon & Schuster, 2013 (this edition)

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

Philippa Gregory, #1 New York Times best­selling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA Today), presents the latest Cousins’ War novel, the remarkable story of Elizabeth of York, daughter of the White Queen.

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 come home at last.

Review-  The White Princess is the fifth book in the Cousin’s War series (and the 3rd I’ve read) and I just can’t get enough of this series. I also loved the television series, The White Queen which is based on this series.

In this instalment, The White Princess takes off not long after The White Queen ended. Elizabeth’s affair with King Richard ends in grief and turmoil. He is overthrown by Henry Tudor. Elizabeth was certain that Richard would win and that her affair would be legitimized when he made her Queen, only with his death her betrothal to Henry stands.

In her grief, she is wedded to Henry who is really quite vulgar and treats her poorly. Gregory’s portrayal of Elizabeth’s early relationship with Henry really highlighted Elizabeth’s grief and her disgust at her new husband. Of course, over time she learns to love him- but I must say I never warmed to him like I did with the other King’s in the former books. It’s probably just a projection of how he was viewed by his Kingdom I suppose. He wasn’t well liked and certainly not as charming as his predecessor King Edward. He has absolutely no social skills and there is zero chemistry between him and Elizabeth.

Elizabeth plays her role as Queen as she is instructed and bears him an heir or two. Her mother, the former Queen Elizabeth, continues to cause trouble, undermine the King and instigate an upheaval of the people against the King. Even though I admired her in The White Queen, I certainly saw her from a different perspective when viewing her antics from her daughter’s eyes. I then saw her as selfish and obsessive and conniving. I do understand her desire to put her long-lost son on the throne, but I don’t understand why she’d risk her daughter’s life and those of her grandchildren to do that.

Young Elizabeth lives in a controlled environment, with a husband she does not desire and whom is completely enmeshed in this weird relationship with his mother. She too is very controlling, paranoid and makes Elizabeth’s life difficult. There were times I felt frustrated by Elizabeth’s passivity, though I completely understand the lack of power she had in her position. It wasn’t until the final quarter of the book that I really saw a strength come through and she started to stand up for herself.

There are plenty of conspiracies, confusion, betrayals and secrets in The White Princess, which sits well with the overall theme of the series. I find the way of life in this era quite intriguing, even if it is all a bit bizarre. This series has certainly made me a Gregory convert and I look forward to getting my hands on another of her books in the near future.

Overall Rating

3.5/5

“I really liked this”

The White Princess can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

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