Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fifty-Two: The White Queen - Philippa Gregory

I have to attract the attention of a young man riding out to yet another battle, against an enemy that cannot be defeated.  He may not even see me.  He is not likely to be in the mood for beggars or flirts.  I have to excite his compassion for my position, inspire his sympathy for my needs, and stay in his memory long enough for him to do something about them both.
These are the words of Elizabeth Woodville, recently widowed during a battle of the Cousin Wars as she tries to gather favor with the soon to be named King of England - Edward.  Elizabeth comes from a long line of family who descended from Melusina, the water goddess.  Her and her mother use their "powers" to influence weather conditions or put a hex on others.  Elizabeth is able to enchant Edward and marries him in secret before he went into battle to claim his throne.  Edward and Elizabeth take over as King and Queen and arrange their advisers to make alliances between the House of York and House of Lancaster.  As their family grows, they are challenged by other family members and other usurpers that want to have the throne. 

Edward gets sick and ends up dying causing a fight for the throne yet again even though he left two sons as official heirs.  His brother Richard ends up claiming the throne for himself and locking up Edward's two sons in the Tower.  Elizabeth flees with her daughters to sanctuary and starts to plot on how to overthrow Richard.  She makes an alliance with Margaret of Beauford who son Henry Tutor is anxious to take the throne as well.
From her confinement, Elizabeth plots, schemes and uses her "powers" to continue her ambition and allow her children to claim their birthright.

This book is the first in a series about the Plantagenets from Philippa Gregory.  I really enjoyed her Tutors series, but had a hard time relating to the main character Elizabeth.  I felt that her voice was very whiny and negative.  The plot from chapter to chapter was very similar and it was hard to keep all the different family members straight. I didn't really believe that women back then would use "powers" or "witchcraft" to influence events.  I found it hard to believe that a local woman could stand at the side of the road and entrance the would-be king to marry her. 

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