Sunday, 24 November 2013

Kim's Review : The White Princess

"The White Princess" is currently the latest and last book in Philippa Gregory's "Cousins War" series. It tells the tale of Elizabeth of York - daughter of King Edward of York and Elizabeth Woodville and wife of  Henry Tudor (aka King Henry VII of England)

As daughter of King Edward of York with no known surviving brothers (the Princes in the Tower who went missing were her brothers), Elizabeth had the strongest claim to the throne. But Henry VII who defeated King Richard III (he was betrayed by his own allies) in the Battle of Bosworth, chose to claim his right to the throne by a tenuous claim of inheritance from John of Gaunt. So he crowned himself king, before his marriage to Elizabeth and only crowned her as Queen of England after their son Arthur was a year old.

Margaret passes on her own insecurities to her son, and Henry the VII having spent most of his life outside England in exile, has no one he can trust in his court other than his mother and uncle Jasper Tudor. Unfortunately for her, Elizabeth has inherited the York charm and the people of the country genuinely love her and the Yorks, which only makes her husband more suspicious of her and her intentions. Henry's paranoias soon get the better of him and his impoverished existence when in exile, makes him an avaricious tax collector, which makes him even less liked by the public.

The constant rumors of a surviving male York heir who was spirited away by his mother Elizabeth Woodville, keeps rallying the discontents in England to a new cause against King Henry Tudor and result in many minor battles. It is at this point of the story that Philippa Gregory finally introduces Perkin Warbeck who claimed to be Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, the younger son of King Edward IV and missing brother of Elizabeth of York as a contender to the throne who is defeated and imprisoned by Henry VII. In her novel, Gregory believes that Warbeck was indeed who he claimed to be and his sister accepted it in secret, but due to the threat from her husband, she never acknowledges it in public. (a lot of contemporary historians also believe this line of thought, because of Elizabeth Woodville's support to his cause)

The book ends with the execution of Perkin Warbeck.

The glimpses of Elizabeth of York, that I had seen in The Red Queen intrigued me and made me really keen to read "The White Princess". However, the spunky Elizabeth of York who stood up to her future Mother-in-law Margaret Beaufort, is completely subdued in this book. Margaret Beaufort rules her son and England with a heavy hand and in Philippa Gregory's interpretation, Margaret is a complete terror to her daughter-in-law. The only person who can stand up to her is Elizabeth Woodville. The tyranny of her Mother-in-law and the suspicions of her husband, make Elizabeth of York a much more watered down character that I had expected her to be. But I guess, that was the only way to adhere to the historical facts, given Margaret Beauforts control over Henry and the Kingdom.

It's worth a read to complete the "Cousins War" Series and to get a continuity into starting the "Tudor" Series - The Constant Princess (Catherine of Aragorn)

Rating : 4/ 5

Also Read Kim's Reviews of the other books in Philippa Gregory's - "Cousins War" Series:
The Lady of The Rivers
The White Queen
The Red Queen
The Kingmaker's Daughter

1 comment:

Nidhi Mahajan said...

I have seen the TV show they made on this series and absolutely loved it! Great review. I have been wanting to read the series, too! Just haven't gotten around to it yet. Too huge TBR shelf!

I also have a little book review blog, if you'd like to check it out-

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