The White Princess (The Cousins’ War #5) by Philippa Gregory

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When Henry Tudor picks up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth field, he knows he must marry the princess of the enemy house Elizabeth of York to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades.

But his bride is still in love with his slain enemy, Richard III and her mother and half of England dream of a missing heir, sent into the unknown by the White Queen. While the new monarchy can win power, it cannot win hearts in an England that plots for the triumphant return of the House of York.

Henry’s greatest fear is that somewhere a prince is waiting to invade and reclaim the throne. When a young man who would be king leads his army and invades England, Elizabeth has to choose between the new husband she is coming to love and the boy who claims to be her beloved lost brother: the rose of York come home at last.

Publisher and Release Date: Touchstone, July 2013

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: Tudor England
Genre: Historical Fiction
Heat Rating: 1.5
Review Rating: 4 Stars

Review by Lizzie English

This story starts right after the Battle of Bosworth and while Henry Tudor has won the crown, he has not yet been anointed King. Elizabeth was betrothed to Henry for years even as she was the lover of Richard III, but did not think much would come of it. That is until Henry’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, tells her that she is to be Henry’s Queen consort, but only if she can produce an heir. It takes Elizabeth the entire book to come to terms with the fact she married her enemy. And that she really truly did not know her mother or any of her family, for that matter.

Elizabeth isn’t a very stable character. It takes the littlest thing for her to change her opinions and it really doesn’t seem as though she has any of her own, and nor does she know much of what goes on in the book. Keeping her in the dark is a deliberate tactic of her mother’s in order to make it difficult for Henry and  his Mother to accuse her of any treason. She lives a lot in the past constantly thinking of her dead lover – the former King Richard III – and how it would’ve been if her first born Arthur had been his child. She often comes off as needy and desperate, wanting to be Henry’s confidant but still telling herself that she hates him.

These are two characteristics that her husband Henry VII displays as well. Through Elizabeth’s eyes, Henry is cynical, doesn’t trust anyone (except his mother) and is full of anger. She never really tries to understand him, which is a shame, because she does show that she ends up loving him and he, her. Their love started as hatred as Henry basically rapes Elizabeth before their wedding in order to beget a child. Through all of his actions, Elizabeth keeps saying it’s her “wifely duties” but the scenes do not come off that way. It’s very awkward to read their encounters, as she is basically a board who lays there for him.

Historically, this can get really confusing. The story is told in a linear way, but it’s still hard to keep track of what exactly is going on. Mostly because Gregory just uses some of the real historical facts but continues the story that she wrote about in The White Queen (Cousin’s War 1) so in order to get a lot of what Elizabeth’s mother references, it may be necessary to read the first book. The main conflict of the story, besides Elizabeth verses her mother-in-law, is that of Perkin Warbeck, the young Flemming who is thought by some to have been one of the missing Princes from the Tower. This is where the story takes a bit of deviation of the truth. [Later, in the Authors Notes, Gregory notes this as well.] As this is most of the conflict I won’t say anything to spoil it all. As for Prince Arthur and Prince Henry (who becomes Henry VIII) nothing much is mentioned about either of them, which is such a missed opportunity. But when they do appear there are hints into their future.

It may sound like there are lot of complaints but this story is very pessimistic, it being a time of constant war as the Cousin’s war isn’t really over until Henry VIII starts his reign (which does not happen in this book.) The book is highly enjoyable with all of the deceptions and intrigue between Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort. It would’ve been much more enjoyable if this was part two of the stories of Elizabeth and Margaret, because it would’ve been interesting to see their point of view during this time.

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