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Customer Review

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Competent, but lacking somewhat in pizzazz, 14 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: The White Princess (COUSINS' WAR) (Hardcover)
Philippa Gregory is reaching the end of her mammoth series on The Cousins' War: the post Bosworth marriage of Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York. This particular story line could have gone one of two ways. In the first option, she could have taken the gripping story of how these two disparate people accepted their destinies and formed the Tudor dynasty which ultimately produced England's greatest monarch, Elizabeth the First, and woven a wonderful fiction around that. Unfortunately, PG chose the second route, that of blandness, and one ends up merely annoyed with Elizabeth of York, rather than sympathising with the challenge she faced in making a marriage which would unite a warring kingdom while the threat of Yorkist rebellion was ever present. The story also flies in the face of the truth that this good, gentle woman and her chilly husband formed a loving and supportive relationship whose eventual loss left him devastated. According to Ms Gregory, we have a reluctant bride (still in love and in lust with her uncle Richard the Third) and a deeply resentful groom, who only find a modicum of affection and common ground through their children. They could be ANY dysfunctional couple, complete with interfering mothers-in-law, rather than key dynastic players under unique pressure to unite the red and white roses in the Tudor badge and bring lasting peace to an exhausted country. The thread of witchcraft runs through the whole series, unfortunately, and in this book Elizabeth and her mother are even willing to risk cursing their own descendants - go figure, as they say.

Fiction is fiction naturally: the facts can be played with, the timelines distorted and social mores of the time ignored, but in good historical fiction, in my view, the closer the narrative sticks to the known facts, the better the end product will be. In this work, there is not the intense depth of characterisation that is present in, say, Hilary Mantel's Henrician series, nor a feeling of the flow of events.

For diehard Gregory fans, this will not disappoint, particularly as its publication coincides with The White Queen series currently on TV. For fans of meatier historical novels, it will be a disappointment. This writer is very skilled, with a great imagination, showcased best in The Other Boleyn Girl and if this series had reached that high watermark, it would have been so much better.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Dec 2013 05:28:40 GMT
Banditqueen says:
Playing with time lines is one thing; even inventing some minor characters for drama and interaction; but falsifying the known facts just to shock and invent a theory is another thing. Just where did Gregory get the insane idea that Henry Tudor raped his bride to be Elizabeth of York? Nowhere! She decided for a bit of blackening the Tudor name as is trendy at the moment to satisfy her own rubbish theories. There is nothing to back it up or to justify it. It is complete invention and cannot be justified by the pathetic excuse that she is writing fiction.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Mar 2014 21:40:45 GMT
Jo Jo says:
I agree, Henry comes across as a snivelling coward and Elizabeth as not very bright. The latter I found hard to believe given who her parents were, and the life she had led thus far. Very disappointing read, repetitive and not very believable.
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