The White Queen
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
Historical Fiction, 415 pages
I read a lot of great reviews on The White Queen, and I loved The Other Boleyn Girl, so I had some high expectations. I guess they were too high because I thought The White Queen was a disappointment.
The White Queen tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville: a commoner who is married to King Edward IV. It tells of the endless fighting and scheming of the War of Roses.
The one thing that bugged me the most was how repetitive Gregory’s writing was. She would often repeat the same phrase several times in the book – sometimes even in the same paragraph. Perhaps she thought it would be artistic, but it was just irritating.
I also thought the characters were shallow and underdeveloped. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters – especially Elizabeth. She is meant to be a devoted wife and mother, but I didn’t get any of that from the book.
I disliked Gregory’s depiction of magic and witchcraft, and her repetitive telling of the story of Melusina, a water goddess that Elizabeth believes her family is descended from. I first thought that Gregory was trying to depict the role of magic and superstition in English life, but the spells that Elizabeth and her mother preform actually work, and her mother can tell the future. I thought it was unbelievable and laughable. Historical fiction should be believable.
The inside flap of the book alludes to the mystery of the two missing princes – Elizabeth’s sons. But most of the book doesn’t even address this issue, and it is hardly the central plot.
I really wanted to like this book because I don’t know enough about this period in English history. I did learn some things from it, but that isn’t enough to redeem this book. It is an easy read, but not something I would recommend.