As far as historical fiction goes, this is a no-holds barred re-telling of “The War of the Roses” otherwise known as the Cousin’s War. This war lasted 30 years between rivals houses Lancaster and York for the throne of England. Phillipa Gregory focuses on her niche and goes backwards in time to explain how the Tudor dynasty reached the throne.
Elizabeth Woodville, historically, is known to be a ravishing beauty with hints of being a witch. She is a widow with two young sons. Gregory takes it up a notch and writes Elizabeth as having witch-like powers because of her connection to the fabled goddess Mesulina of the water. I’ll be honest, it was a fun addition to make the history a bit more fun. Don’t you love the fact that women had to be witches back in the day because they got everything they wanted?
Elizabeth’s charms, beauty, and witchery entice the King of England to marry her (even if she is a widow with two children.) To me, that was a fascinating point since I thought most monarchs in the medieval times wanted fresh, young virgins. However, Elizabeth comes from ambitious stock, and the beginning focuses on her relationship with her parents (mother especially who I think will be focused on in Book #3), brothers, and subsequent children.
I do enjoy Gregory’s writing very much, but yet again, she is repetitive as the book drags on. Towards page 200, Elizabeth primarily acts as a brood mare with constant battle around her for the throne. (She and King Edward IV produced 10 children!) There are a lot of characters, so you really have to read this with your imagination otherwise you could become confused.
Once King Edward IV dies suddenly, the book transforms and is impossible to put down. Gregory goes a step further into the fiction realm with events regarding the Two Princes In The Tower. In retrospect as the reader, I wanted to have the right and correct ending rather than the fairy-tale ending. However, those events are inconclusive still to this day, so Gregory took artistic liberties on making a fulfilled ending.
Overall, I enjoyed this delve into the Royal House of Plantagenet Dynasty and look forward to reading “The Red Queen“ next!
Jen’s Rating: ****