The White Queen – Philippa Gregory

The Story
The White Queen

The White Queen tells the story of  Elizabeth Woodville.  The first commoner who became Queen of England. And she was not popular for it!

Elizabeth Woodville is one of the many young widows in England after the first few years of the Cousins’ War. Her husband John Grey died fighting for Lancaster.The wrong side, the losing side. Her in-laws refuse to give her her dowager lands and with two young sons and no money, Elizabeth is desperate. The only man in England who can help her, is the new York king, Edward.

According to legend, Elizabeth and her two sons waited under an oak tree to seek Edward’s help. The new king, ever a ladies man, is so enchanted with the beautiful Elizabeth he has to have her. But Elizabeth knows his reputation and refuses to be his mistress. Madly in love, Edward decides to marry her.

With Elizabeth’s marriage, the star of the Woodville family rises. Elizabeth’s father and brothers get important positions and the never ending train of sisters are married off the the most desirable grooms in the kingdom. It’s a hard game and Elizabeth is hated by most of the nobles. Especially by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. With the rising influence of the Woodville clan, his influence with the king melts away. He was the driving force after Edwards campaign, and is called the Kingmaker. His plan was to rule behind the curtains. But with no more power left, he decides to be a Kingmaker once again. It’s the start of new period in the Cousins’ war. Elizabeth has to fight to keep her family safe. But most of all, she has to fight to keep her throne. 

My opinion

Reading ‘The White Queen’ made me fall in love with Historical Ficton. I really loved this story and it made me dig for more information about the Cousins’ war and especially more information on Elizabeth Woodville. Gregroy makes history come alive. The moment you start reading, you are Elizabeth. You know how she feels and you know why she did the things she did. She wasn’t popular, even called a witch, but she did everything to protect her family and her power. Described as the most beautiful women England has ever known, she was also told to be an arrogant, prideful and ever plotting woman who nearly brought England down.This novel makes sure you understand why she acted as she did.

Reading the War of the Roses trough the eyes of the leading women, gives the story a whole new dimension. Although they didn’t fight on the battlefields, they were even more dangerous by scheming and plotting at home. Most women are only a note in the history books, buy they sure did their part in the wars.

The White Queen is a very easy read. Although most of the characters have the same name (Edward, Richard, Anne, Elizabeth… Not very creative those parents!), you don’t have to have any knowledge to understand the story. It’s  wonderfully written but keep in mind it’s historical FICTION. Gregory defends her choices in the author’s note, be sure to read it.


Language: English
Dutch translation: De rozenkoningin
Pages: 400
Pocket Books

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