Top critical review
23 people found this helpful
on August 24, 2009
That's about the only word I can come up with to describe my feelings. The White Queen is the first in a new series Gregory is writing based upon the Plantagenets and the Wars of the Roses - or The Cousins War as she calls it. The book begins as a widowed Elizabeth Woodville waits on the side of the road with her two young sons to plea for her dower lands from Edward IV. Several years younger, Edward is captivated and must have her - but Elizabeth holds out for a wedding ring and gets it. Elizabeth is crowned queen and immediately goes about getting the best positions and marriages for her relatives, which earns the enmity of just about everyone else. The story continues as Edward battles with Margaret of Anjou and the deposed Henry VI, as well as his treacherous brother Clarence and Warwick, The Kingmaker, and finally culminates at the death of Edward IV (that's known history, no spoilers here), and his brother Richard ascends the throne. That's really about all I want to tell you about the plot. If you're familiar with the period you know the basics and if you're not it's way too complicated to try and put it all into a review.
Unfortunately, I found the writing overly repetitive to the point that I felt like I was being clubbed over the head. Whether it be the first chapters where she keeps referring to twenty-two year old battled hardened Edward as a "boy" (counted it at least six times on one page), to the locket with the names written in blood, as well as the ever present and over bearing references to her ancestor Melusine - I got the point the first time. Outside of the first few chapters at the beginning of their relationship I didn't pick up much chemistry between Edward and Elizabeth - they should have sizzled right off of the pages and instead they fizzled. But worst of all was the magic and spells cast by Elizabeth and her mother, whether you buy it or not I found the casual way everyone in the book treated it more than just a tad bit unbelievable - it's just a day in the park and I'll whistle up another storm to thwart my enemies. I think with all the people who hated her someone would have had her tried as a witch.
One last minor nitpick and thanks to some readers at another site who spotted this - one of Elizabeth's palaces is Nonesuch (or Nonsuch). Google that and you'll find that it was built by Henry VIII. Oops. I am recommending this one only for die-hard Gregory fans, you're better off reading Penman's fabulous Sunne in Splendour. If you're not sure get it from the library first. Glad I did.