“If there is love enough, then nothing — not nature, not even death itself — can come between two who love each other.”
Philippa Gregory’s The White Queen is the first in a series that takes place before the Tudor court books. It focuses on the life of Elizabeth Woodville, a 26 year old widow who catches the eye of Edward of York, who is attempting to dethrone Henry and take the crown for himself. Edward and Elizabeth marry in secret while he is still fighting for the crown, and she stays beside him throughout his tumultuous reign.
Edward’s bid for the crown occurs during the War of the Roses (the Yorks vs. the Lancasters). As usual, Gregory does a good job of laying out the history of the event while adding in personal details to make it more interesting. There is one facet of this book that Gregory changes rather dramatically from what is generally accepted from the truth: Elizabeth is the mother of the “princes in the tower” — two boys who were held hostage in the Tower of London and never returned — and Gregory adds her own twist to the story. However, as she points out in her introduction, these events occurred hundreds of years ago, and who really knows what happened?
If you like Gregory’s other books, you’ll mostly likely enjoy this one. Elizabeth is an interesting figure, strong and levelheaded but also totally in love with her king. The women in her family believe strongly that they descend from a water goddess named Melusina (wow did I want to type Melisandre there — wrong book, wrong element). There’s a lot of references to mystical events and spells, which was kind of a departure from your average historical fiction, but since she was accused of witchcraft, it makes sense for the novel and adds a little wonder to the story.