Author: Philippa Gregory
Published: Touchstone, July 2013
I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The White Princess is fifth in The Cousin's War series revolving around the Plantagenet family. I read this series in the completely wrong order: book one, two, five, four, and then three. This would usually drive me nuts but I'm pretty familiar with this time period so it all still made sense. The latest release revolves around Elizabeth of York, King Edward IV's oldest daughter. Historically, we know her most famously for being the mother of Henry VIII, yet there aren't really many books that center around her, so this was exciting to pick up. Philippa and I have had our struggles in the past, but I still keep coming back for more.
In the series, we've left off right after Richard III is killed and Henry VII takes the throne. Elizabeth knows she comes as part of the package in Henry's ruling of England, but of course she's not eager to marry the man who stole her family's throne and killed her uncle. Henry certainly isn't a pleasant man in the beginning (aka he's HORRIBLE; what an awful portrayal of a pretty decent guy in reality), especially in his treatment of Elizabeth, but they eventually grow into somewhat happy pair. With a childhood spent in hiding, most of her family members meeting tragic ends, an unwanted husband, a rocky time as Queen, and the loss of many of her children, Elizabeth had quite an interesting life, but we don't see much of it in this book. She's pretty clueless throughout the entire thing (she says "I don't know" at least 400 times and most of her dialogue is her simply repeating what was just said previously) and at times I felt her character was underdeveloped and that she was simply observing things around her rather than participating in them (boooringgg).
Now I think Philippa Gregory writes wonderful fiction full of action (okay, not so much in this one), intense characters, and vivid scenery and life, but I don't like how she pushes many of her speculations as historical fact and her tendencies to make things over-dramatic simply for the sake of a good book rather than historical accuracy (as if this period of time wasn't dramatic enough). For instance, there's a BIG plot in The White Princess that Elizabeth was her uncle Richard III's lover (NO NO NO NO). There is only one tiny shred of historical evidence pointing to this and it's awkward to push this so heavily in a book (it's also a big point in the television show based on the series as well). Gregory's focus on Elizabeth and her female ancestors being descendants of a water goddess and consequentially sorceresses, if that's the right word, themselves is cool to an extent but mostly made me want to face-palm the entire time. The constant 'prophecies' Elizabeth kept relaying felt a little over the top - ("our family line will end with a red-headed girl," yeah yeah yeah). Still, I've enjoyed this series so far for what it is - "historical entertainment" (heavily twisted and imagined fiction as well). This was a good addition, even with a little debate and eyebrow-raising moments along the way - just don't take anything too seriously.
Giveaway! I have a beautiful hardcover copy of The White Princess to give away to one of you! US residents only - simply leave a comment below by August 16th to be entered.
I bought this book at the airport without knowing it was a part of a series. Would I be able to read this book without reading book 1? Probably not, huh? I too have a hot and cold love affair with Ms. Gregory but she writes some pretty detailed historical fiction.ReplyDelete
Sorry you didn't like this as much, though. Maybe next time?
I think you could read this one on it's own, but reading Book 1 and 2 would be more helpful, you'd get much more out of the story!Delete
I am anxious for her next book in the series though, she's picked a very interesting character to focus on.
I've been looking forward to reading this one since I enjoyed the rest of the series so much! They definitely are not all historically accurate but Gregory certainly knows how to write an entertaining story :)ReplyDelete
I have yet to delve into any of Gregory's books. I have a few of them sitting on my shelf but just haven't picked them up yet. I am intrigued by her writing and the fact that I love historical fiction wins her points. But I'm just hesitant to jump into them since so many do wrestle her books sometimes. Maybe I'm just being silly and need to actually read them and be surprised. Who knows. :)ReplyDelete
I say give them a try, they can be highly entertaining and gripping books if you overlook certain things :)Delete
I keep seeing this series everywhere and it looks awesome!ReplyDelete
Interesting that they're not historically accurate. She strikes me as the type of author who loves the time period so much that she'd work really hard to make them accurate.ReplyDelete
You'd think so, huh? She often stresses the point that she's a "historian."Delete
I just LOVE Philippa Gregory's books! Her novel The Other Boleyn Girl was what really got me hooked on historical fiction, which I read the majority of the time. I always take the events in historical fiction novels at face value until I can read through the author's notes most of them include to see what is fact and what is fiction. I am really excited to read this novel, so thank you SO MUCH for a chance to win a copy!ReplyDelete
Same here, The Other Boleyn Girl is what peaked my interest in historical fiction! I'll always have a soft spot for that book, no matter how inaccurate I now know it to be.Delete
Gregory's Author's Note at the end of this book was quite interesting...she wrote how she hoped she portrayed each character with respect....yet she completely tore apart Henry VII in the book. Weird!
Thanks for the giveaway! I've got all the Cousins' Wars books on hold at the library but I haven't read ay of them yet.ReplyDelete
Philippa Gregory's books are good reading most of the time. Count me in...DeeReplyDelete
I already have my DVR set to tape the show on Starz, but I want to read the books first. I'm still on hold for the first book. Thank you for posting this giveaway.ReplyDelete
I have my DVR set to tape The White Princess on Starz this weekend. I have been on hold for the first book for quite awhile. Thank you for the review and giveaway!ReplyDelete
Great review! I overloaded myself on Gregory's historical fiction a couple of years ago and took a break, but I think I'm due to revisit it. I've heard great things about this series so far! thewellreadredhead at gmail dot comReplyDelete
The Plantagenet family is indeed one of the most interesting of all the British Royal families. I think this sounds like another great work of fiction from Ms. Gregory. I'd certainly like to win a copy, thanks for the chance. carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mxReplyDelete
I don't know where I've been but I've just discovered your blog, and I love it. And I love Philippa Gregory's books. If you have a chance, visit me at Found Between the Covers, my fairly new book blog, or at Healing by Writing where I do my writerly things.ReplyDelete
Love the historical fiction reviews! I've just started reading HF this year so I love hearing about all the recommendations. Thanks!ReplyDelete
I would love to have the chance to read this one. tmrtini at gmail dot comReplyDelete
I am having trouble with my computer so this is my third try!ReplyDelete
Phillipa Gregory knows how to make the history come alive. Thank you for the review that poibted out what is purely fiction. I will remember that when I read this book. Thank you so much for the chance to read this book.
I really enjoyed Phillippa's Tudor books but I've been reluctant to start this series. Lately, though, I've been thinking of starting up with it. Thanks!ReplyDelete
I enjoy your blog and recommendations!ReplyDelete
Love your blog! Keep up the good work!ReplyDelete
Thanks for the review! I love historical fiction and have read other books by Philippa Gregory including The Constant Princess and The Queen's fool.ReplyDelete
OMG I would love to win a copy of this book! I just started Lady of the Rivers so I only have one more to go....loving the series so far!ReplyDelete
I love, love, love this series! Cannot wait to get my hands on this one! ;-)ReplyDelete
I'd like to try this one. thanks for the giveaway.ReplyDelete
Emma at Words And Peace
ehc16e at yahoo dot com
Yeah I'm unsure of how I feel about this series. While ordinarily I'm all about fantasy and magic etc. I really just want...historical fiction. Just that.ReplyDelete
Historical fiction and fantasy are my two favorite genres, but getting them to mesh successfully can be difficult!Delete
I always check on series order in Goodreads. Reading out of sequence would drive me nuts. This sounds like a fabulous read!ReplyDelete
I really like this series. I had just read Alison Weir's The Wars of the Roses before I started this series so all the back and forth between the time periods didn't confuse me as much. Thanks for the giveaway!ReplyDelete
lafra86 at gmail dot com
I've read The Prince's in the Tower by her, where she firmly suggests that Richard III killed the boys. It'll be interesting to read The War of the Roses with that in mind!Delete
I checked out the first episode of the adaptation on Starz and it seems like it will be a really interesting series!ReplyDelete
i've been eyeing this book since i learned of it!!ReplyDelete
thank you for the giveaway!!!!
cyn209 at juno dot com
I haven't read any of the book in this series, but this one sounds so good. I would love to read it. Please enter me. Thanks!ReplyDelete
I just watched the first Starz adaptation and would love to delve deeper.ReplyDelete
I've been keeping up with the series as it's aired in the UK and it's pretty smutty and frivolous, but it's got some great historical details /scenery as well as actors!Delete
Despite the fact that you did not enjoy this one I'd really love to give it a chance. I do enjoy Philippa's writing overall!ReplyDelete
I want to read her books so bad!ReplyDelete
I've read "The Other Boleyn Girl", "The Boleyn Inheritance", and I am currently reading "The White Queen" by Ph. Gregory. I find her writing style very pleasant and I'm well-aware that 90% of what she writes is fiction, but she has a way of narrating things that makes you feel as if what you read has truly happened. The 'all-women-in-this-family-are-sorceresses'-thing kind of bugs me, too, because at certain points it pushes things too far (as in propelling characters into new situations solely based on magic). However, Gregory has become one of my favorite authors.ReplyDelete
I find I can quite enjoy her books if I somehow overlook her tendencies for inaccuracy. The Boleyn Inheritance is probably my favorite book by her!Delete
I really really want to read this series! I have the Lady of the rivers..my friend told me I should read that first. What do you think? I know it's a prequel but sometimes it's better to read them in the order they were published (?) I love her other series, The Constant Princess is one of my favorite historical fiction books! Great review >.<ReplyDelete
Dee @ Dee's Reads
It actually makes sense to read Lady of the Rivers first as it would come first time-wise! It was a bit odd reading a book about Elizabeth Woodville first, then two books later reading about her mother, Jacquetta, as a young adult.Delete
I loved her Tudor novels and am not enjoying the Cousins Wars books nearly as much but I'd like to give this one a try.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the giveaway! I've read the first two and third and fourth are sitting on my shelf to read :)ReplyDelete
brookea_2006 at yahoodotcom