Thursday, October 18, 2012

A War of the Roses

“He promised her that he would give her everything, everything she wanted, as men in love always do. And she trusted him despite herself, as women in love always do.”
–Philippa Gregory, The White Queen

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Touchstone, The White Queen 408 pages 
& The Kingmaker's Daughter 417 pages
Publication Date: The White Queen- August 18th, 2009 
& The Kingmaker's Daughter-August 14th, 2012

Alright, I have become obsessed (again) with my historical fiction, went on a reading bender, and thanks to Philippa Gregory, spent a week transported back to 15th century England. It was a great trip, let me tell you. So I read The Kingmaker’s Daughter roughly 2 weeks ago, read a few books in between, read The Lady of the Rivers (see previous review :) ) and because of my compulsive behavior felt the absolute need to go back and re-read The White Queen. And honestly, it was just as good if not better than the first time.
I looooove this period of history, so again, I’m a little biased. The White Queen and The Kingmaker’s Daughter take place simultaneously with two different character viewpoints. Elizabeth Woodville narrates The White Queen and Anne Neville is the voice of The Kingmaker’s Daughter. The White Queen begins with Elizabeth Woodville encountering Edward IV on the road close to her home and he is awestruck. It is love/lust at first sight. He wanted her in his bed but she would not compromise her honor or reputation. You go girl, make him work for your time and attention. She is different than any other woman he has ever met and it is these kind of love stories that I love. The strong, outspoken female wrangling in man on her own terms. They eventually wed, he is devoted to her (minus the whores he takes while she is in confinement, I guess this was normal back then…k….), and the rest of the novel takes us through their lives fighting to keep their throne and the family drama that incurs. His brother betrays him, the Earl of Warwick who was his former trusted friend turns against them and murders Elizabeth’s father and brother, etc. I cannot ruin the whole history that the book goes through because really, it’s better than fiction that is made up. So intense.
This book is a sweeping romance for sure. I am absolutely enthralled with their story and how in love they were. The White Queen is breathtaking. Truly. Gregory’s writing about a queen that was not wholly well-liked makes you want to jump back in time and fix things for her advantage. While I may not agree with everything she does or the decisions she makes, regardless, I love this woman of history. She was strong, independent, courageous and brave. She relentlessly fought for her family, children, parents, siblings, everyone. This is something I love and can identify with. Family was number one to her and she did whatever she had to do in order to get them what she believed was rightfully theirs. 
Now, The Kingmaker’s Daughter. Anne Neville is the daughter of the Earl of Warwick, Richard Neville. He is cousins with Edward IV and his brothers and has guided him and fought for him to get him on the throne. He is furious when Edward marries Elizabeth because he has lost control over him. His daughter is only as informed as what her father feeds her, which is a conspiracy theory about Elizabeth Woodville and her family having it out for all of them. Her story goes on to talk about marrying the son of Margaret of Anjou, losing him in death on the battlefield, eventually being wooed by Richard III, and living in the North trying to keep her family out of harm’s way. Her sister is married to the second brother, George, and the sisters have a paranoia about Elizabeth cursing them. Needless to say this was not anywhere in Elizabeth’s perspective. 
This is what I find so interesting and brilliant about the writing of both books. Anne is so focused on Elizabeth and her motives and what she is doing, while in Elizabeth’s mind nothing seems out of the ordinary in regards to Anne. It is so unique how the “same story” can be so differently viewed depending on whose perspective you are looking at it from. 
I am a fan of Elizabeth Woodville, I may be biased and while I loved both books I still have a soft spot in my heart for the Woodville family. I understand this review isn’t my norm or typical but it is a struggle to write a review about historical fiction because while I am in love and beyond enchanted by it, many others find it boring. To each their own. 

5/5 Stars to The White Queen
4/5 Stars to The Kingmaker’s Daughter

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