THE WHITE QUEEN by PHILIPPA GREGORY.
The first in a stunning new series, The Cousin's War, is set amid the tumult and intrigue of the Wars of the Roses. Internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory begins this extraordinary family drama to vivid life through the women - beginning with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.
Elizabeth Woodville, of the house of Lancaster, is widowed when her husband is killed in battle. Aided and abetted by the raw ambition and witchcraft skills of her mother Jacquetta, Elizabeth seduces and marries, in secret, reigning king Edward IV of the family of the white rose, the House of York. As long as there are other claimants to Edward's throne, the profound rivalries between the two families will never be laid to rest. Violent conflict, shocking betrayal and murder dominate Elizabeth's life as Queen of England, passionate wife of Edward and devoted mother of their children.
In The White Queen, Philippa Gregory brilliantly evokes the life of a common woman who ascends to royalty by virtue of her beauty, a woman who rises to the demands of her position and fights tenaciously for the survival of her family, a woman whose two sons become the central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the Princes in the Tower, whose fate remains unknown to this day.
....... From the inner, front cover.
First Sentence: In the darkness of the forest the young knight could hear the splashing of the fountain long before he could see the glimmer of moonlight reflected on the still surface.
Memorable Moment: In January we celebrate the greatest marriage that England has ever seen when my little Richard is betrothed to the heiress Anne Mowbray. The four-year-old prince and the little girl are lifted onto the table at their wedding feast in their beautiful miniature clothes and they hold hands like a pair of little dolls.
It is not any reflection on this book that it has taken me some nine or so days to read, indeed The White Queen is of the usual high standard of Philippa Gregory with her wonderful historical insight, and well penned characters.
Well researched as the bibliography testifies, "most of the story I tell here is fact not fiction" as the author explains in her notes, what I love about this novel is the small attention to detail and the writer's ability to take the reader to 1464 where the story begins.
As with most of Gregory's works, the female characters dominate throughout. Wonderfully strong and resourceful, they tell a tremendous tale of how life must have been for women of their class and lineage and yet the author does not fall into the trap of making life sound overly 'romantic' in a time when lives were particularly hard and fraught with many dangers, not least of which was the constant warring.
A particular addition to the book which I also really enjoyed was the telling of how the Woodville women believed they were ancestors of Melusina "the water goddess" who part woman, part fish is "found in hidden springs and waterfalls in any forest in Christendom." In fact how mother, Jacquetta and daughter, Elizabeth, got away without being accused of witchcraft is as big a mystery to me as is what happened to the princes in the tower.
MY RATING: 5 out of a possible 5. A great read, I look forward to the second book in the series.