I never quite got around to reading The White Queen, by Gregory, that’s sitting comfy in my TBR pile. Maybe that’s’ because I’ve already read a lot about Edward IV’s magnificent queen… However, I knew very little about her firstborn daughter, Princess Elizabeth of York. So I immediately was captivated by this story.
The first part of the book was entertaining enough; I was curious to find out how this young and reluctant queen married to the killer of King Richard lll (her presumed lover) would fare within a court where the York name was almost a blasphemy.
Cold and aloof, Elizabeth began by despising her ruthless and insensitive husband King Henry Vll. It also didn't help that she was surmised by the mother-in-law from hell ( Margaret de Beaufort), who co-ruled with her son. Once the lady-in-waiting of Elizabeth Woodville(!), pious Margaret now felt it her right to belittle, mistreat and dismiss the former regents. There were no limits in how far she’d go to assure Henry’s throne and rid the court of all Yorks once and for all.
As time went by, through absolute loyalty to her kingdom and for the fate of her children, Elizabeth would eventually learn how to enjoy her husband’s company and even begin to care for him. But a (huge) factor would be a constant OCD for Henry…could one of the boys in the tower still be alive? Throughout the novel this is the thorn in Henry’s life.
Henry could never rest- always paranoid about the ‘pretender’, ‘the boy’, seeking the right to his throne. Needless to say, this became the obsession within this book. And, frankly, there was just way too much of this (the whole middle part of the book!). As for Elizabeth, I honestly don’t know how she could have realistically kept her cool to preserve an incredible detachment – especially when it came to her supposed younger brother...All in the name of her heirs and the right to their throne. I would have liked to see more passion in this bland queen.
Fortunately, there was one bright beam that kept me reading on- I loved that Elizabeth Woodville was a pivotal character in THE WHITE PRINCESS! It was her strength, love of family and incredible non-stop determination that kept the plot alive. This underlying sense that she was plotting all along, brought interest and engaged me enough to see this novel through. As well, the rest of the York siblings and cousins brought much compassion, dread, helplessness and a true feel for what times may have been like for them under Henry Vll’s rule. In the end, THE WHITE PRINCESS proved to be a passable read.