I've always loved historical novels, and up until I went away to uni, me and my Nan used to swap them all the time, especially Philippa Gregory ones. One of us would pick up a new one, or an old one from a charity shop, read it and then send it on to the other one. She loved it, and it was a fab way to get twice as many books as I otherwise would have!
So, when I was 16 or 17 Philippa Gregory was probably one of my favourite authors, and I snaffled her books up as often as I could. But, going to uni changed all of that, as I simply no longer had the time to read for 'fun' anymore. I then pretty much fell out of love with historical novels, and haven't really picked one up since, so I was feeling a little bit 'meh' about The White Queen.
Once I started reading it however, all the reasons why I love Gregory's writing came flooding back to me. The period of history that she writes about - circa the Tudors and Plantaganets - is one that has always fascinated me. She also writes with an incredible clarity, and I love the fact that she reads a variety of sources before writing, and then chooses her own angle from them. She also tends to write from a woman's point of view, and explores her thoughts and actions - things which were fairly overlooked at the time.
The White Queen is the first of Gregory's books that focuses on the Plantagenet family. We come in during a period of time when The Yorks and Lancasters are at loggerheads, and the York family has just come into power. Elizabeth Grey, the novel's protagonist, has been widowed of her Lancastrian husband during the wars, leaving her and her two sons forced to fend for themselves.
So, when the new York King Edward rides through her husband's lands, Elizabeth seeks him out in supplication for a dowager's income. What she gets however, is a lot more than that. Her beauty and a little bit of magic help the King fall in love with her at first sight, and she cannot stop thinking about him either. Elizabeth's mother has told all of her children about the legend of Melusina, a water goddess who helps their family out in love. With a little enchantment and word to Melusina, Elizabeth and her mother are sure that Edward will return to his new love.
And return he does. Soon Elizabeth finds herself the secret wife of this York king, and has no idea how life changing (or destroying) their love might be to both of them. Elizabeth must now learn what it takes to be the Queen of England in a time during which plots are rife, not least from their closest quarters.
Have you read it before? What did you think?