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Book Review: The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

Plot:

Caught between loyalties, the mother of the Tudors must choose between the red rose and the white.

When Henry Tudor picks up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth field, he knows he must marry the princess of the enemy house—Elizabeth of York—to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades.

But his bride is still in love with his slain enemy, Richard III—and her mother and half of England dream of a missing heir, sent into the unknown by the White Queen. While the new monarchy can win power, it cannot win hearts in an England that plots for the triumphant return of the House of York.

Henry’s greatest fear is that somewhere a prince is waiting to invade and reclaim the throne. When a young man who would be king leads his army and invades England, Elizabeth has to choose between the new husband she is coming to love and the boy who claims to be her beloved lost brother: the rose of York come home at last.

Review:

Review originally written in October 2014:

A majority of this novel focuses on the Warbeck rebellion and the author can’t even decide what to call him. This leaves the reader inundated with references to “the boy”, incessantly, until it will seep into your nightmares. Just call him Richard or Perkin for heaven’s sake! Besides the fact that this “boy” is well beyond what is considered an age of majority and the age that his alleged father was king and battle seasoned warrior. I almost stopped reading, but forced myself to persevere for dear Elizabeth’s sake until she met her end.

I had hoped for better, had longed for somebody to do poor Elizabeth some justice. No characterization of her that I have read has honored this woman who bridged the gap between the Plantagenet and Tudor dynasties. 

Near the beginning of this book, Elizabeth thinks, “I am, like England itself, part of the spoils of war.” I loved this line and its simple, sad truth. It got my hopes up that the rest of the novel would be as beautifully written, that Gregory would surprise me. She didn’t.

Before turning too many pages I was sick of hearing Richard III referred to as “my lover.” I don’t even mind that PG decided to make EofY and RIII lovers. Fine, it’s fiction. Whatever. But she’s a writer, right? Exercise that vocabulary a little!

If only that was the only example of repetitious, eye-roll inducing, make-me-want-to-throw-this-book-out-the-window vocabulary. Perkin/Richard is always “the boy”, RIII is always “my lover”, everyone keeps asking “what d’you think/mean”, and Elizabeth’s answer to every question is always “I don’t know”. Seriously, I have no idea why this is told from her point of view because the girl never knows anything. To emphasize the fact that she is as slow as her cousin, Edward, she frequently repeats what people tell her in the form of a question, creating some of the least compelling dialog that I have ever read. Dialog is repeated, thoughts are repeated, everything is repeated. The novel could be 100 pages shorter if the author wasn’t so condescending to the reader.

1/5 stars. 

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