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on 11 October 2014
My remarks here cover the other books about the Cousins' war as well as this one. I see many reviewers quibbling about the accuracy or otherwise of historical details in this series. Personally, I read the books as novels, fictional narratives set in a specific period. If you want 100% accuracy read biographies or histories!

I have enjoyed the books very much as exciting narratives and above all as attempts to see the world of that time through women's eyes - a nice complement to most other accounts. It is true that this works better with some characters than others. I especially loved the Red Queen's own story, I think Gregory succeeded very well in capturing the perspective of this woman, and showing how extreme religious devotion can turn into complacency, self-aggrandisement and bigotry (there are many contemporary examples of this, and I found this character curiously up-to-date!). The White Queen's tale, on the other hand, is often about the men around her, and this problem seems most noticeable in the White Princess, where the story really seems mainly about 'the Boy', though it is told only through a woman's eyes. But on the whole I really appreciate her attempts to show us a period as experienced by women.

I also really enjoyed reading the same incidents as seen by different characters, particularly when the White and Red Queens' stories are juxtaposed. I think the whole series is an interesting experiment in perspective. But above all these are highly readable, gripping stories, to be read not for edification but simply for entertainment.
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on 6 December 2016
The White Queen is the first book in Philippa Gregory's Cousins' War series about the War of the Roses. The heroine is Elizabeth Woodville, a widow with two young boys, who has been left destitute after her husband's death while fighting for the Lancastrian cause. Her sons' inheritance has been seized back by her mother-in-law, so she waits upon the road hoping to meet the new king, Edward IV, and plead for her cause. Edward, however, takes one look at her and falls madly in love (or rather, lust) and is determined to have her for his own, even if that means going against the man who made him king, the Earl of Warwick. When Edward tries to force himself on Elizabeth she turns a knife on him, so he agrees to marry her. But as the marriage takes place in secret, with very few witnesses, is it even legal?

The beginning of the story took me a little by surprise, as it is similar to those historical romances I love to read, with not quite so much of the battles and beheadings I'm used to reading about in Philippa Gregory's books. But the characters were very likeable and realistically portrayed, and it was fascinating getting a glimpse of the real people behind the stories in the history books. The first half of the book shows the endless battles Edward went through to keep his throne (we experience them second-hand through Elizabeth, waiting patiently at home). The second half is about how Elizabeth is forced into various alliances to protect her children.

I did enjoy reading The White Queen, and would happily give it five stars, but out of the series I think I preferred the later stories. The Red Queen, about Elizabeth's frenemy Margaret Beaufort, was a far more interesting character, as was Elizabeth's mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg (The Lady of the Rivers) and sometime 'witch'.

As The Lady of the Rivers is effectively a prequel to The White Queen and ends at the exact point The White Queen starts, you may wish to start the series with that one. I wish I had read it first, as it would have helped me understand the characters motivation a bit more, and who they all were.
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on 13 June 2013
This book hooked me from the onset, giving the familiar story of the Wars of the Roses a new lease of life. Gregory tells the historical stories we all know from the women's eyes- The women right in the middle of the events.

'The White Queen' is the first of the 'Cousins War' series, with this book focusing on the beautiful queen Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward IV and the mother of the two princes in the tower. The novel begins with her meeting Edward under the oak tree, and follows right through to follow the mystery of the princes in the tower. My one criticism is that it shouldn't have ended before the battle of Bosworth, however I'm sure 'The White Princess' will address this.

I recommend this book for anyone interested in the Wars of the Roses and women in history. Yes aspects of this novel isn't factually correct, but it's a good read and will likely inspire you to find out more about the period.
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on 3 June 2017
I have much enjoyed phillipa gregory previous books,I found this a little long winded.the long bouts of fiction rather tedious.i am very dissapointing. It felt rather like hard work ploughing on to the end.i am hopefully that the next will live up to the standards of previous books,such as I have come to expect of this author.
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on 9 March 2018
There is so little written about many periods of the fifteenth century that PG did a great job inventing the story around the only solid facts available.

The Plantagenet period has never been a favourite of mine, but as she is my favourite author I'm now going to plough through the full series. I bought this book actually believing I was going to be bored to tears with it, and I did in fact take me to half way through the book to truly take great interest it, I found it frustrating in many ways.

But, onwards and upwards, and I'm now going to buy the Red Queen!
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on 21 August 2017
I know I will upset some people, but I didn't think this was that well written. yes, its got all the facts, but it was just a long list of events and the characters were not sufficiently different from each other. Rather than trying to describe every important event in her life, I think it would have been better to narrow the scope and go for more depth. I am not sure I will rush to read another of Gregory's books.
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on 14 June 2016
This is an overall view of three novels in this series: The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's daughter. Miss Gregory writes well and it is evident that she researches her work meticulously. Her atmospheric descriptions are excellent and she is able to transmit to the reader the hubbub of Medieval Times.
It is a personal opinion, but I am not sure I was overfond of the breathless, first-person style of narration. The three books tell you the same story from three different points of view and while allowing you to form an initial opinion about the characters, it gives the reader enough leads to do further research if the interest exists. I was a bit dubious of the many instances of witchcraft attributed to Elizabeth Grey and her mother. Instead of limiting the mentions to recording hearsay, the author actually depicts her and her daughter 'whistling up a storm'. This does not seem necessary. I was also uncomfortable with the almost total lack of reference to King Richard's disability. We know now that he was not a hunchback but it is a fact that he had a serious condition of the spine. The only mention of a problem is the debilitation of his sword arm, attributed to witchcraft.
This is nevertheless a very enjoyable (and commercial ) series and makes a relaxing, escapist read for those of us who enjoy the genre.
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on 3 November 2013
Phillipa Gregory is a renowned historian who brings the Wars of the Roses to life in this book. Of course the conversations must be imagined, unless part of the published record, but they are believable and set in context they provide an essential part of the narrative.

Elizabeth Grey, nee Rivers, marries the newly crowned King Edward V, not long fater he captures the throne from Henry VI. The rest of the story is about Elizabeth's struggle to retain power and provide a legacy for her family. Ms Gregory doesn't try to make Elizabeth likeable and I suspect it would be a tough task if she did, but she provides us with a "warts and all" look at the court and the sort of people who helped shaped the world we live in today. Reading it you'll wonder how the monarchy lasted so long.

I would ahve liked a little more background to the Wars, to help me understand what had gone before. Much is hinted at but there' not a lot of detail before Elizabeth confronts Edward on the road to Northampton. I suspect this may be told in other books by Ms Gregory, but having not read those I couldn't really say.

For lovers of the recent TV Series you'll be pleased to know that the TV company stayed pretty faithful to the book, though I did notice that Sir William Stanley had been air brushed out. That was a pity because the book shows he was an influential figure. Anyway, The book does finishes on the eve of the Battle of Bosworth, whereas the TV series finished just after it.

I found that having seen the TYV series the book was much easier to read, mainly becuase it was easier to identify the major characters and work out how they fitted in to history.
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on 23 August 2015
Another book I picked up on a whim. I tend not to dabble in books written by women, not because I'm a misogynist or anything, like that, but because they tend not to write football books or Andy McNab style thrillers!

Anyway, being interested in this period, and having seen the author do a first class documentary on British television, I decided to give it a go. What I discovered was a well written, intriguing slice of history from the viewpoint of a major and influential figure in English history.

Most history about the war of the roses tends to focus on the brutality of the battles (Towton, Bosworth etc) and very little is given over to the decisions being made behind the scenes. The white queen bucks this trend, and my understanding of the period is all the better for it.

Overall, a decent example of historical fiction.
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on 27 February 2014
The White Queen and The Lady of the Rivers- Philippa Gregory

I saw the TV series and thought that it was interesting and entertaining enough for a Sunday evening's watching but a bit too glossy and Disney for my taste. I found the book similar in these aspects although I enjoyed reading it as a back-to-back follow on to 'Lady of the Rivers' which I thought was much better. I appreciate that these stories are written in first person p.o.v., which limits them rather as far as a general feel for the period is concerned, and of course other historical characters are seen through their eyes, or as the author imagines they might be seen, so it is interesting to read the whole series for the reader to be able to form a rounded opinion and be in possession of the facts as seen from the different viewpoints in order to make an informed assessment of what actually happened without all the fluff of centuries of propaganda and partisan interest getting in the way.

The general period ambiance was spoiled, I felt, with the use of 20th century slang terms and anachronistic attitudes. In itself, this is a valid device; many Shakespearian productions do it to great effect, but for the Dowager Duchess Cecily of York to call her favourite son, George the Duke of Clarence, a " numptie" to Elizabeth and Jacquetta (people she despised) falls beyond any pale of credulity. This is why I felt it the veneer of a glossy sleb mag in places, which, for this particular reader, was disappointing.

The witchy stuff was better handled in Lady of the Rivers. It was clunky and awkward in TWQ. Having said that, Lady of the Rivers was written after TWQ although chronologically preceding it.The character of Jacquetta did not journey well. The reader was hard pushed to relate the likeable and sensible, not to say sensitive, Jacquetta of Lady of the Rivers to the ambitious. pragmatic and grasping woman in TWQ. Elizabeth her daughter, become very dislikeable, which one would not expect in a first person narrative which should make the reader a bit more sympathetic to the main protagonist. However. Anthony Woodville was portrayed as some kind of superhuman saint and all round Very Nice Person, which was obviously not a universal opinion, but the negative side of both Anthony and Richard Woodville, Baron Rivers,(also portrayed as that romantic and all round reasonable chivalrous Nice Chap) was skated over.

I know that these novels have been heralded as being unusual in that they focus on the Her of History- the female influence on great events, that the hand that rocks the cradle rocks the world more literally and more pro-actively than being 'just a brood mare'. I have been reading historical fiction and historical fact (if there is such a thing) for about 50 years now, and certainly most of it does admit the massive role played by women, certainly aristocratic women and women in the higher eschelons of society, so I do not view these as anything new or special in this regard. These novels do not celebrate the role of women in lesser positions, and thus less able to influence the course of history. There are some in the annals, and celebration of the more unsung and unknown women in history would be more novel as an exercise in female influences in social history. We are taught in school about the greatness of Kings and especially Queens, as (of course) they have ruled far more intelligently.

The novels are what they are, A Good Read, easy to follow, a little instructive without being didactic, which should just dangle enough real history to encourage non- historians and people who thought they disliked history to further thought, reading and even research, which can only be A Good Thing. Perhaps for that reason alone I should have given a 4 rather than a 3, but it was 'numpty' and 'Oh My God, Mother', and similar grafting of 20th/21st century language and attitudes on to Medieval England that dropped the score. They can't be that bad, I am just starting on 'The White Princess.' She seemed to be developing into a quite interesting character towards the end of TWQ, which is more than can be said for many of the others in the book. I felt the characterisation was a little neglected, and the players were flat, (or even flattened by the overweaning selfishness of the Woodvilles perhaps) coming to TWQ after Lady of the Rivers, but perhaps that is because Gregory had not warmed up to her people until the later books in the series.
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