Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mystery Book Review: The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The White Queen by Philippa Gregory. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

A 15th Century Plantagenet Novel of Suspense

Touchstone (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-4165-6368-7 (1416563687)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-6368-6 (9781416563686)
Publication Date: August 2009
List Price: $25.99

Review: Philippa Gregory creates a thrilling historical adventure tale that includes a still unsolved mystery of two missing princes in The White Queen, the first in the War of the Cousins (or War of the Roses) series.

The White Queen covers a 21-year period in the life of Elizabeth Woodville. Married at a young age to Sir John Grey, she was soon a widow after Grey was killed fighting for the Lancastrian Cause. The battle was against the Yorkist Cause, for which young Edward IV had just been crowned King. This civil war is recorded as the War of the Cousins, but is also popularly referred to as the War of the Roses since a red rose represented the Lancasters and a white rose the Yorks. Elizabeth marries Edward in secret, but their union does nothing to unite the country. As Elizabeth is now the wife of the King, who represents York, she becomes known as the White Queen.

During this turbulent period, Elizabeth and Edward IV have 10 children, including two sons, the eldest of which, Edward V, assumes the throne at only 12 years of age on his father's death. He is quickly overthrown by his uncle, Richard III, who declares Edward IV's marriage to Elizabeth invalid, their children illegitimate. Edward V and his young brother Richard disappear behind the forbidding walls of the Tower of London, never to be seen or heard from again.

Henry Tudor of Lancaster eventually overthrows Richard III, but the War of the Roses isn't over. Each has been promised marriage to the eldest daughter of Elizabeth and Edward IV, ensuring that Elizabeth will be Queen Mother to the throne.

The White Queen can be read from many perspectives, all of them rewarding in their own way. The history seems to be meticulously researched, the narrative replete with details that add depth, interest, and authenticity to the story. It is also a love story, often told with a great deal of poignancy. Finally, there is the fate of the two young princes who were taken away from their mother, and whose disappearance to this day remains shrouded in mystery. The author crafts an intriguing and plausible story to explain what may have happened, but of course, the truth may never be known. The White Queen is an exceptional novel and is highly recommended.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of The White Queen and to Wiredset for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.

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