Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Book #60 The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

The White Princess

Length Of Time In Possession : A day

The White Princess is the latest installment of the Cousins War Saga, picking up where The Kingsmaker's Daughter left off; Anne Neville and Richard the Third have died, and Henry Tudor has finally fulfilled his mothers desperate single minded determination to see him on the throne.

Margaret Beaufort the King's Mother, and Elizabeth the Dowager Queen have already made an alliance that would see Henry Tudor marry Elizabeth Of York thus cementing any doubts about his claim to power.

Here things get somewhat muddled I think, and a lot of people's characters get besmirched by the unfortunate authorial decisions Gregory makes. Firstly, young princess Elizabeth it seems would far rather be getting it on with her dead uncle than with her new young man. Allegations of incest between Richard III and Princess Elizabeth went unproved and seem entirely unlikely. They were probably largely invented by dramatists such as Shakespeare looking to paint Richard III in a poor light.

Next Henry Tudor turns rapist, determined to get Princess Elizabeth pregnant before marriage to prove she's not barren. Margaret Beaufort encourages this and Elizabeth Woodville complies and so the whole sorry affair reflects well on no-one. Elizabeth Woodville had 8 children and her mother before her had 12, it seems highly unlikely in those times that the fertility of the young princess would ever have been questioned, and also more than unlikely that the religious Margaret would have encouraged sex before marriage.  

Following their poor start Henry and Elizabeth have a difficult relationship flying in the face of what is known of them historically. Unlike her mother, Elizabeth Of York is not a power player in her own right and does not really carve out a path of any interest for herself. There is very little hint at the powers of the water goddess that her mother and grandmother had except in being warned of death. The court is controlled by the King's Mother and so Elizabeth has little to do.

The plot itself becomes exceptionally repetitive. During the novel The White Queen Gregory gave us the idea that one of The Princes In The Tower : Richard in fact survived, a theory that given later events seems quite likely. Throughout his reign Henry is chased by the spectre of 'the boy' and pretty much the entire novel is devoted to various boys popping up out of the woodwork claiming to be Richard Plantagenet. As each of these emerge, Henry rants at Elizabeth she simpers about not knowing anything, the pretender is defeated and it all starts again. This wears thin.

I do find the idea that Richard survived plausible and certainly of these Pretenders, the one they called Perkin Warbeck may well have been the real thing which is pretty much what is suggested here.

In the end I think that possibly the things that I found the most interesting about The White Princess are the continuation of the idea that Elizabeth effectively cursed her own line by accident & that this book in itself acts as a natural conduit between Gregory's Cousins War and her Tudor Saga the next story chronologically being that of Catherine Of Aragon in 'The Constant Princess' whose marriage to Prince Arthur is being prepared for at the close of this novel.

Not perfect by any means, but still another enjoyable addition to the canon.

Verdict 7/10

Destination : ebook storage

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