The White Queen by Gregory, Philippa2009-08 – Hardcover
In a radical move sure to shock historical fiction readers everywhere, Philippa Gregory has dared to move beyond the Tudors to craft fiction about (gasp!) lesser known English royals. Sure, the Tudors are fascinating, what with the six wives, the nine-day queen, Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen, but there were other interesting characters in English history besides the Tudors. Elizabeth Woodville, the protagonist of Philippa Gregory’s newest novel The White Queen, is one such character. Born into a family of minor nobility, Elizabeth is a beautiful young widow with 2 sons when she catches the eye of Edward IV, York candidate for the throne. Despite her family’s previous loyalty to his opponent’s cause and the fact that he is still fighting to secure his kingdom, Edward (a notorious ladies’ man) falls victim to Elizabeth’s beauty and ambition. Of such stories are terrific historical novels made!
Go back to the days when no English king sat secure on his throne, back to the waning days of the Wars of the Roses. This is exciting stuff for any history buff, and the fact that it ends with the mystery of the 2 princes in the Tower piques the reader’s interest still further. Expand your horizons–and let’s hope that other authors will take the hint and move on beyond Tudor. Who knows, maybe someone will actually move beyond England! A girl can dream.
PS–If you love historical fiction, don’t forget to try the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. This six volume historical series starts in 1547 and goes through 1558, and moves from Scotland to France to Malta, Constantinople, Russia, and England. Many people have told me that she is comparable to Patrick O’Brian, but in my book, Dorothy Dunnett is even better. (And yes, I have read all 20 of O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels.) (And also, yes, I am a nag about this series. You know why? Because it is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the best historical series ever written.) Okay, end of commercial!