An exceptional trilogy, bringing to life the Plantagenet and York families and their continued quest for the crown of England. Philippa Gregory is one of my favorite authors for historical fiction. Her character development is good..always insights as to how these people got to their place in life..what drove them, what held them back, and how the changing world affected them.
As a lover of English history (which started from the time I first visited York Cathedral as a very young child), I think of the War of the Roses, like a climbing rose bush..so many shoots, so many buds, so many beautiful roses, but oh so many thorns, as well. The most important aspect of this trilogy for me, is that I can put into prospective who’s a red Lancaster/Tudor and who’s a white York. But in the end the whole civil war is depressing, as is any civil war, so many lost lives.
The following is a narration from Philippa Gregory about the women of The Cousins’ War, Jacquetta Woodville, Elizabeth Woodville, and Margaret Beaufort.
The Lady of Rivers is the story of Jacquetta, Dowager Duchess of Bedford, now known also as Jacquetta Woodville is the mother of Elizabeth Woodville, Edward IV’s wife & queen. Jacquetta is said to be descended from the river goddess, Melusina, and has the power of ‘second sight’. This connection to witchcraft follows her through life, always clouding peoples’ judgment of her, her family, and in particular her daughter’s rise from commoner to queen.
I particularly enjoyed this book, because I did not know about the Woodville family and their matriarch. The story was fast moving, informative, but since it is fiction, I found that I needed to know more about Jacquetta. Sometimes it’s hard to determine what’s fact and what’s fiction, but the more you read, compare, and investigate, the more you understand where an author turns to fictional additions to the story.
The White Queen is the story of Elizabeth Woodville, an extraordinarily beautiful young widow, a commoner, self-centered , and with an ambition that has no bounds. As some would say, she used trickery or witchcraft to lure Edward IV to marry her and make her his queen. Once in this exalted royal position Elizabeth used her power to promote her family and do away with the enemies she creates along the way. One of the most unfortunate turns in English history is the imprisonment and disappearance of her two sons, known as the “princes in the tower” . Elizabeth is, however, a survivor, by whatever manipulative means she can find and use to her advantage. After the marriage of her daughter to Henry Tudor, Elizabeth believes her right as dowager queen, and mother of the present queen, gives her ‘rights’. At the end of her life she finally reaps what she has sown.
This piece of the trilogy puzzle is also a favorite of mine. It’s a must read to see the entire picture of these fascinating times and particularly the part the women play. The expression comes to mind ‘behind every good man there’s a woman’. Well in this case there certainly is, one with a driving force of ambition giving over to cruelty. Ms. Gregory once again gives a wonderful character development for Elizabeth Woodville, it makes the story come alive and I wanted/needed to know how this woman would fare. I did find that some points were not in keeping with history, but it is a fiction novel.
OMG…a trailer from the upcoming mini-series of The White Queen..can’t wait!
The Red Queen is the story of Lady Margaret Beaufort who is betrayed as unlikeable, driven, a piety to match no other. Margaret devotes her entire life to the belief that her family should wear the crown, that they are the true royals and her son, Henry Tudor will be the king. She is a master at intrigue, liaisons, and treason to further ‘the true cause’. Margaret all but imprisons her daughter-in-law Elizabeth , Queen to Henry VII, in order to maintain control. The ultimate, and one the first, control freaks in history.
The story of Lady Margaret intrigued me. I did not know her story so, of course, I looked up more books on her and now see another side of the ‘war’. I think that any book that pushes you to seek further knowledge about the subject..must be a good book. I highly recommend this book, it’s a rich drama about desperate people in desperate times, which most of the time they create themselves. These three books are an easy read and a must for lovers of historical fiction set in the 1400s
For more insight on Lady Margaret Beaufort watch the following videos by Philippa Gregory.