The White Princess – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

Dreaming Water by: Gail Tsukiyanma

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by: Gail Tsukiyanma

The White Princess : by Philippa Gregory

Hell is Empty : by Craig Johnson

Other Books I’m Reading:

Anathem by: Neal Stephenson

Much has been said over the years about how historically accurate Philippa Gregory’s works are or are not. I’m not going to belabor historical accuracy today. I don’t happen to agree with her theory that one of the Princes in the Tower escaped. Enough said.

The only thing left, if I’m not going to look at historical accuracy, is the quality of the novel as a work of fiction. That’s a whole different question. The White Princess is about the life of Elizabeth of York. Daughter of Elizabeth Woodville heroine of The White Queen and granddaughter of Jacquetta of Luxembourg heroine of Lady of the Rivers. Sadly while her mother and grandmother are portrayed by Gregory as women of action, sense, and strength, Elizabeth of York comes out as whiney, and frankly not that bright.

The Elizabeth of the book is forced into marriage with Henry the VII after he rapes her repeatedly at the behest of his mother who doesn’t want to have a barren Queen. Actually truth to be told, Henry’s mother Lady Margaret Beaufort heroine of The Red Queen really wants no Queen at all other than herself. The wedding is just about the last interesting thing that happens in the book. The rest is Elizabeth whining. She whines because she misses her uncle/lover Richard III of England. She whines because her husband is under his mother’s thumb. She whines because her mother, her husband, and her mother-in-law won’t let her play their spy games. She whines because she can’t pick between loyalty to her husband and son, or loyalty to the York family.

Perhaps more annoying than Elizabeth’s constant dithering, is the constant questioning. Every time her mother, or her husband reveal some portion of their plotting, she has a thousand and one questions for them. No wonder they wouldn’t let her play their spy games. As well educated as she is supposed to be, she has no apparent grasp of politics, or world events. She can’t even seem to decide whether she thinks the pretender to the throne Perkin Warbeck is her brother Richard all grown up, or not. The whole thing adds up to a 522 page book that contains 500 pages of the heroine flailing about uselessly.

This book would have been so much better if Gregory had let Elizabeth pick a side and become a spy master. It doesn’t even matter which side she would have picked.

But wait! Then the book wouldn’t have been historically accurate.

That is true. But the book is not historically accurate as written either. That’s why it is called fiction. Better an interesting read, then a dull whiny one.

Favorite Scene: Watch for the repeated prophesying of Elizabeth I of England.

Favorite Quote: “When I think of the fortune that was spent on your education, Elizabeth, I am really amazed at how little you know.”

Enjoyability: I’m going with three stars on this one. It could have been worse. It could have been much better.

Where to read this book: Far away from any historical reference material that could tend to enrage you. In fact resist the urge to fact check all together.

Further reading: In the background I’ve been working through the Longmire series by Craig Johnson. It has been really well done. Lest anyone think they are to highbrow for a mystery series there was a joke about Cato the Elder about three books back that made me laugh as hard as I’ve laughed over a book in a long time. 

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Posted on August 21, 2013, in Fiction, fun, Reading, review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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