Review: The White Princess

Title: The White Princess (The Cousin’s War #5) Image

Author: Philippa Gregory

Rating: ★★1/2

Provided Synopsis: The White Princess opens as the news of the battle of Bosworth is brought to Princess Elizabeth of York, who will learn not only which rival royal house has triumphed, Tudor or York, but also which suitor she must marry: Richard III her lover, or Henry Tudor her enemy.

A princess from birth, Elizabeth fell in love with Richard III, though her mother made an arranged betrothal for her with the pretender to the throne: Henry Tudor. When Henry defeats Richard against all odds, Elizabeth has to marry the man who murdered her lover in battle, and create a new royal family with him and his ambitious mother: Margaret Beaufort, The Red Queen. But, while the new monarchy can win, it cannot, it seems, hold power in an England which remembers the House of York with love.

The new king’s greatest fear is that somewhere, outside England, a prince from the House of York is waiting to invade and re-claim the throne for the house of York. Fearing that none of his new allies can be trusted, Henry turns to his wife to advise him, all the time knowing that her loyalties must be divided. When the young man who would be king finally leads his army and invades England, it is for Elizabeth to decide whether she recognizes him as her brother and a claimant to the throne, or denies him in favor of the husband she is coming to love…

Review: The White Princess is the fifth book in The Cousin’s War series revolving around the Plantagenet family. During this time period, the throne of England was constantly being fought over by the Houses of York and Lancaster, and to win the throne provided very little security as goes the saying of “heaving is the head that wears the crown.” In previous books of the series, the reader has been provided with the story from the point of views of Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort, Jacquetta Woodville, Anne Neville, and now, finally, Elizabeth of York. Historically, Elizabeth of York is most famously known as being the mother of Henry VIII, so I eagerly anticipated this novel in the hopes that it would provide further insight into her life.

The story starts off right after the death of King Richard III and Henry Tudor’s (who will be crowned as Henry VII) ascendancy to the throne. Elizabeth is set as the bride of Henry in the hopes that their marriage will untie the two houses and provide peace to the country. From the beginning, Elizabeth is unhappy about the marriage since Philippa Gregory decides to follow the rumor that she was in love with her uncle, King Richard (which bugs me to no end since there is no historical proof of this). While she is able to provide the Tudor line with the heirs that are required, their claim to the throne is continuously challenged by those who claim to be Elizabeth’s younger brother, Prince Richard of York. Henry Tudor has none of the charm or love of the people that is necessary to be king, and the constant paranoia of him and his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, never ceases throughout the entire novel. They must find the boy, they must capture the boy, they must defeat the boy — this mantra seems to go on, and on, and on.

I often found myself frustrated with this book rather than captivated by it. The constant obsession over “the boy” (Richard of York) and Henry’s paranoia made the book seem repetitive. Every threat was the same and very little action roused me to become an active reader. Elizabeth of York has previously appeared as a minor character in previous books of the series, yet the book that focuses upon her has a complete shift of personality. I have read Gregory’s accounts of her being feisty and passionate; in this book she is constantly saying the words, “I don’t know,” to her husband’s questions. She came off as an underdeveloped character that observed things going on around her rather than becoming an active participant.

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