Book Review Jackie K Cooper
THE WHITE PRINCESS by Philippa Gregory
Among the writers of historical romance novels Philippa Gregory is the crème de la crème. She, more than any other author in this genre, seems able to combine the fictional with the historical and make it a winning combination. This is shown clearly in her new novel THE WHITE PRINCESS. She relates the basic details of the history of England in the late fifteenth century and then takes literary license with some key characters in order to create an enthralling story.
The focus of this story is Elizabeth of York. She is the lover of King Richard III who is defeated by the usurper Henry of Tudor. Once Henry becomes King of England he requires Elizabeth to marry him in order to give unity to the throne. Since she is a York and he is a Tudor this is a perfect arrangement except.....Elizabeth's brother Richard is rumored to have fled England and is alive somewhere.
Throughout the book the threat of Richard is one that follows Henry, and makes him suspicious of any and all Yorks, including Elizabeth. No matter how often she swears her allegiance he does not believe her. He is even more suspicious of her mother who lives with them. He thinks she is in secret communication with her son and plotting with him to reclaim the throne for the Yorks.
These plots against the King, both real and imagined, give the book its dramatic impact. Then when you add in Elizabeth's quandary of whether to be aligned with the King or with her family, you have real conflict. Elizabeth is conflicted primarily because of her sons who will one day rule England if Henry keeps his crown.
The license Gregory takes with these characters is believable as they fit in with the overall pattern of England's history at this time. Henry did defeat Richard and take the crown; there was a pretender who claimed to be the lost Prince Richard and sought to overthrow Henry; and the prophecy made by Elizabeth in a curse did come true.
All of this makes for fascinating reading as the story flows from a loveless marriage to a glimmer of love between Henry and Elizabeth. The couple faces countless conflicts within the family and without as Henry tries to hold on to his reign and Elizabeth tries to hold on to her marriage. Nothing is certain so the suspense is constant.
For entertainment reading that is also educational, THE WHITE PRINCESS should be your next book to read. You may not think you would like this type of fiction but THE WHITE PRINCESS could surprise you.
THE WHITE PRINCESS is published by Simon and Schuster. It contains 528 pages and sells for $27.99.
Jackie K Cooper