I tend to read a lot of non-fiction and memoir-type books. I like novels, but only a few have completely captivated me. One such book (well, series) that has me completely engrossed is actually historical fiction, which is no surprise, considering my love for non-fiction. Philippa Gregory is a British novelist who has written several books based on the history of medieval and Elizabethan England. You might remember The Other Boleyn Girl, which was first a book and then made into a movie? Yeah, that was great. If you’re a fan of that book, you’ll definitely want to check out The White Queen.
This books takes place several decades prior to the tale of Anne and Mary Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl. It’s set in the mid-1400s, during the “War of the Roses,” and tells the tale of Elizabeth Woodville, a widowed commoner who captures the attention of the young, unmarried king, Edward IV. Elizabeth and Edward begin an affair and marry in secret, which doesn’t sit well with the king’s family (to say the least). However, the two get married and thus begins Elizabeth’s quest for power in the kingdom. Elizabeth is actually the grandmother of King Henry VIII, one of the most pivotal and important kings in all of England’s history. This book begins the sordid story of how Henry (Tudor) VIII came to power. So if you’re interested in that part of history (and it’s incredible), you’ll love this book.
The book is filled with fascinating history, as most of it is true. Over the course of her marriage, Elizabeth and Edward have several children and from all accounts, have a happy marriage until his death at a fairly young age. After Edward’s death is when the book really gets good, as Elizabeth schemes to keep power as she fights for her children against Edward’s brothers, George and Richard (who later becomes the infamous Richard III).
The White Queen is the first book in Gregory’s “Cousins’ War Series.” The novels that follow include The Red Queen (which tells the tale of Henry Tudor’s other grandmother), The Lady of the River, and The White Princess, which tells the story of Henry VIII’s mother. I’ve read all of them, and they’re each page-turners. However, The White Queen is my favorite.
If you’re looking for a novel that you won’t want to put down THIS IS IT. You’ll be amazed at how fascinating British history is (if you weren’t already). All I know is that I was incredibly entertained, and learned quite a bit, too. You can also check out the TV series, “The White Queen,” which aired on STARZ a few years ago. I caught every mind-blowing episode of that show, too.