I’ve finally read a Philippa Gregory book. That book is called The White Queen which chronologically precedes The Other Boleyn Girl and therefore the Tudor era. The first in The Cousins’ War series, The White Queen centres on Elizabeth Woodville who, a commoner, rises to become the Queen of England because of her beauty and ambition. She soon finds herself in the middle of wars and constant instability.
What I admire is that Elizabeth is such an independent and strong woman despite the time. She’s ambitious – she would do anything to keep her position even murder…through witchcraft. Yes, she practices witchcraft every now and then, and I kind of liked the supernatural element in the book. Not sure if she was a witch in real life but I’m going to find out. One of the things about historical fiction is that it encourages you to research. Anyway back to the character, you can feel the struggle that Elizabeth experiences but at the same time, you start to not like her. Her constant cursing on people, almost everyone is a rival to her, becomes unbearable to the point that you want to shout at her.
I was turned off by her naivety and selfishness. She doesn’t seem to think of anything but her husband King Edward (I didn’t like this guy – he’s a prick, to be honest, that I doubt that he really loves Elizabeth) until she loses him and even after that, she almost damages her children’s wellbeing because the throne is the only thing on her mind. Most of the time, I didn’t care about the characters. The writing played a part in this. It was more telling than showing and plus the scenes were jumpy. The next chapter would take place a season or a year after the last chapter. The intimacy between reader and book got lost. There were times when I got confused with the names. There are a lot of Richards and Edwards, and there are several instances where there’s nothing to distinguish them.
The book did redeem itself with the last few chapters. Things start to climax with Elizabeth’s daughter being involved with Richard III and Henry Tudor becoming a threat. It’s the point where Elizabeth starts growing up and not cursing her enemies from afar. She starts her plans for revenge and on her way to restoring her position at court. On top of that, she finally pays attention to her kids, showing that a woman can do everything. Despite her flaws, I value Elizabeth’s intelligence. I didn’t buy her beauty and was irritated by her personality, but her intelligence and strong will enchanted me.
Even though the book takes place in the Plantaganet era, reading The White Queen rekindled my interest in the Tudors and everything that’s related to the era. I’ve already started Wolf Hall and currently have this burning desire to watch The Tudors. I can’t wait to read the next entry in The Cousins’ War series.