Saturday, November 14, 2015
The Cousins' War: "The White Princess" (book 5), by Philippa Gregory
Elizabeth's conflicting loyalties and emotions mirror those of the rival families as she goes from princess to outcast to political pawn and finally to Queen of England, but with a crown never allowed to sit comfortably. Because of the tortuous path to the crown, Henry Tudor - King Henry VII of England - never felt secure wearing that crown. But he survived all challenges, as did his queen. The resulting Tudor dynasty utterly failed to smooth the troubled royal waters, but produced much more great material for historical novelists. Henry VIII gets all the attention, but The Cousins' War is a worthy prolog.
Out of all the dynastic furor, Philippa Gregory reserves greatest sympathy for the three generations of Woodville women - Jacquetta, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth again. In these novels, they lack the arrogance and ambition of the noble families, perhaps owing to their more humble English lineage coupled with descent from a French goddess. It makes for a good theme to tie the series together.
The mother of all "War of the Roses" novelists, Sharon Kay Penman, presented yet another very different picture of the Woodvilles, Yorks, Lancasters and Tudors. Next - a look at The Sunne in Splendour.