The White Princess (Cousins’ War book 5)
By Philippa Gregory
Paperback, 528 pages
Considering this is the fifth book in the series and I haven’t posted a review on any of the others, I thought I’d just do a quick review. This whole series focuses on the war between the houses of York and Lancaster over the throne of England. In this book we follow Elizabeth of York, recently wedded to Henry VII of Tudor. There’s the mystery of Elizabeth’s two missing brothers, Edward and Richard, as Henry fights to keep the crown he won in battle when he defeated Elizabeth’s uncle Richard.
First I just want to make a quick note on the cover art – I hate when they change cover styles part way through a series! It looks like they’ve done this a couple of times since I’ve been reading about the Cousins’ War and I’m really not impressed with the current cover.
I loved the style of the first three. Then the fourth book lost the female character on the cover and I was okay with that, but there’s something about this new cover series that’s lacking in elegance. I think they started it because of the TV series that launched (as evidenced by the hideous seal on the cover) and I wish they’d kept with the old style. The last book is due out soon (though I’ll wait until it’s in paperback) and I have a feeling it will match this new art style.
Cover nitpicking aside, I enjoyed this book, as I have the whole series. I love that this series is told from the viewpoint of different women in different points in time, as it broadens the reader’s experience. Sometimes we read a book from the Lancaster side, sometimes from the York, so we see all angles – it’s not a matter of good and evil, or even choosing sides. As I’ve progressed through the series, my opinion on the characters has changed and I enjoy that. In the last book I found Elizabeth of York highly annoying and I was disgusted with her actions. Now, reading about what she went through with her marriage to Henry VII and her rise to Queen of England, I developed respect for her and really enjoyed her character. Her depiction of Henry VII was excellent as well – his descent into complete paranoia was terrible and entertaining.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of historical non-fiction – it’s just too dry for me. This year I read Alison Weir’s book on Elizabeth of York and while I can appreciate the amount of work and detail that went into her work, I was almost bored to tears reading about how much cloth-of-gold Elizabeth was able to purchase on her scant salary from Henry and how many pounds each yard cost. I enjoy the drama and character development that historical fiction lends and I’ll always be a fan of Gregory’s work.
If you’re interested in the Lancaster/York/Tudor era and you enjoy historical fiction, I’d say give this series a shot – obviously you’ll want to start with The White Queen.