Elizabeth Woodville is just a regular English woman when King Edward IV comes to her home and falls in love with her. They marry in secret, and once Edward feels he can be truthful about their relationship, he brings her and her two sons (from a previous marriage) to court to live as a proper royal family. The White Queen is Elizabeth’s story of the War of the Roses, a turbulent time in England when brothers fought against brothers and cousins fought against cousins for the crown. As Elizabeth raises her family amidst this chaotic time, she is forced to be an instrumental part in the war and make some major decisions that will affect her family for generations to come.
I know some people love to hate Philippa Gregory, but I almost always enjoy her books. They aren’t always completely accurate, but they are entertaining and provide just enough history for me to feel like I’m learning something while I read. The White Queen was no exception to this – I enjoyed getting to know Elizabeth while at the same time learning a bit about the War of the Roses. I honestly wasn’t very well-versed in this period of English history before picking up this book so I’m glad I gave it a try.
Elizabeth Woodville was definitely a character I sympathized with. I found it hard to believe that her and Edward fell in love over the span of, I don’t know, five minutes, but I was willing to put my doubts about that aside because I really enjoyed her personality. She was both fiery and independent and compassionate and loving towards her family. She was very protective of her children but also willing to let her boys be educated independently from her in order for them to become more royal (and hopefully future kings). She had to make some tough choices, especially towards the end of the novel, in order to protect herself and her family, and I empathized with her struggles along the way.
While I enjoyed the history part of The White Queen, I have to admit that there was one aspect of the book I detested: the war scenes. Reading about who battled who and with what tactics and for what titles just bored the heck out of me. Other than that, though, I enjoyed learning a bit more about this time in history and even though I know Gregory has been known to take some liberties with the truth, I know generally the book is based on facts.
The White Queen was a highly entertaining historical fiction novel and is a must read for fans of Philippa Gregory. While the book was not perfect for me, I really liked it and will definitely be picking up the next book in the series upon its release.