Tag: Philippa Gregory

If you could not tell by my past reviews, I’m a big fan of Philippa Gregory’s books. The basis of this review is the Starz channel mini-series “The White Queen,” which was adapted for television from three of Philippa Gregory’s “Cousin’s War” novels. The books that the show is based on are “The White Queen,” “The Red Queen,” and “The Kingmaker’s Daughter.” Now, this TV series is a few years old, having aired in 2013. However, it is still such a good series that it’s worth the watch.

 

 

Warning: Contains historical spoilers! (If you wish to skip the spoilers, look for the all caps text)

 

 

The series starts off with Elizabeth Grey, daughter of Baron Rivers and Jacquetta Rivers, waiting for King Edward of York. Her family had been loyal Lancastrians for most of their lives. However, with the death of her husband in battle against the Yorks, Elizabeth was forced to live with her parents, having had her dower lands taken from her by her mother-in-law. She intends to beg the king to intercede on her behalf and get her and her son’s inheritance back. Little did she know that this would set off a chain of events that would eventually lead to the tyrant Henry VIII.

This chance meeting by the roadside grew into the love of the century. Edward and Elizabeth immediately fall in love with each other. They marry in secret, much to the fury of Edward’s main advisor, the Earl of Warwick. Edward declares his marriage and makes Elizabeth Queen of England.

This action causes Warwick to become bitter at his foiled plan to marry Edward to a princess of France. When Edward denies him the permission to marry his daughters Isabelle and Anne to the royal dukes George and Richard Plantagenet, Warwick plots with George and starts a war to remove Edward from the throne and put George on it. This is a battle that continues until the death of Warwick and, later, George (who had married Isabelle behind Edward’s back).

After Edward’s death, Richard declares Elizabeth and Edward’s marriage to be invalid, and thus deligitimizes Edward’s sons Edward and Richard. Richard becomes the infamous Richard III and puts the boys in the Tower of London. Supposedly, he’s the one who killed them, but the show makes it so that we don’t know who really ordered the death of the boys.

Richard’s reign doesn’t last long, for shortly after Anne’s death, Henry Tudor invades. The series ends at the Battle of Bosworth, where Richard was cut down and Henry Tudor becomes Henry VII. He eventually marries Elizabeth’s daughter Elizabeth of York, and they have many children, including the infamous Henry VIII.

 


 

 

REVIEW STARTS HERE.

 

First off, I’ve been reading the books in order along with the show, first starting with “The Lady of the Rivers,” then “The Red Queen,” and now “The White Queen”. I’ve been trying to read them in the order that the events happen in the timeline, but there are overlaps.

I do have to say that the show follows pretty faithfully to the books, almost down to the line. I love that they are able to pull from all three novels to create a seamless story. We get to see the viewpoint of Elizabeth, Henry’s mother Margaret Beaufort, and Warwick’s daughter Anne. Each of them was a queen in some form, with both Elizabeth and Anne both being crowned and Margaret becoming “My Lady the King’s Mother,” which was essentially calling her queen. Each of the women are strikingly different. Elizabeth is bold and determined to get exactly what she wants. Margaret is pious and certain that her young boy will be king. Anne starts off as a meek little thing but grows into her own. To be fair, as someone who isn’t really big on religion, I wasn’t a huge fan of Margaret, since I couldn’t relate to her intense piety. I felt that I connected more with Anne, feeling intense pity at her first marriage to the Lancastrian prince Edward which was doomed from the beginning. Elizabeth is someone to admire. I loved her fierce love for her children and husband, and never doubted that she would do anything it took to keep them all safe. I did disagree with her demand that her daughter Elizabeth should marry Henry Tudor, but do see that it was the only way to stop the Cousin’s War.

This show has a bit of nudity and a lot of violence, so if you do not like either, I would not recommend this show to you. However, if you do decide to watch it, it’s a very well-made look at the Cousin’s War. I’ve read many books on this era, and while these are very romanticized depictions, it’s a beautiful show that would be a great start to getting into the era.

One thing that sort of bothered me about this show was the lack of Richard’s twisted back. While I completely understand that this was made during or even before they discovered Richard’s skeleton and confirmed his severe case of scoliosis, it still slightly bothered me. I get it. I mean, they didn’t want to do the stereotype of the evil, hunchback king. Heck, most of the time I felt sympathy for Richard (minus the incest that the show portrayed, which isn’t confirmed to be true). They wanted to portray him in a good light. However, after watching the documentary about a team finding Richard’s skeleton, I wanted to see him portrayed more to what we know now is the truth.

If you are a fan of the show “The Tudors” or of this era in particular, I recommend watching this, albeit with a grain of salt. This is not a documentary. This is historical fiction. Enjoy it for what it is.

The sequel “The White Princess” is available on Amazon to rent or buy. It continues the story following Elizabeth of York, her marriage to Henry Tudor, and the constant onslaught of pretenders claiming to be one of the missing princes of the Tower. If you like “The White Queen,” definitely check out “The White Princess.” And, if you get curious, watch the documentary of the discovery of Richard III’s body.

 

 

“The White Queen” is free for Amazon Prime members here.

“The White Princess” is available to rent or buy on Amazon here.

The documentary of the discovery of Richard III’s body is available on YouTube here.

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So I faced a dilemma about a week or so ago. I had finished reading “The Last Tudor” by Philippa Gregory (you can read my review of it here.) and began a new book: “Origin” by Dan Brown. I have read all of his books, so naturally, I needed to read this one as well.

I began reading it, and about three chapters in I stopped. My issue with the book was that there was a lot of Spanish in it without any translation. Of course, some of it can be guessed at by looking at the context, but not all of it. I was sad because I really wanted to get into this book. After going to another book in my collection, I decided that I should continue reading “Origin,” mostly because I know the book has to be good. My persistence paid off, as more of the foreign language sections were translated the further I went into the book.

While I am glad that I continued reading (and still am reading), it made me wonder: At what point do you stop reading a book? This is nowhere near the first time I’ve stopped a book. I had to re-read “The Constant Princess” by Philippa Gregory because I had given up on it the first time. I still have not finished her book “The Other Queen,” mostly because my mind kept trying to compare the story with the TV show “Reign,” both being about Mary, Queen of Scots. I’ve also stopped reading the “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon because it became boring to me.

I hate not finishing a book. I want to know everything that happens in a book, and I want the satisfaction that I completed my task. However, there’s just a point where you have to say that you can’t continue. For me, it’s often that I get bored. When I get bored, I skip paragraphs, then I miss things. One of these days I’ll finish reading these books, but for now, I continue on with “Origin.”

So I wanna know from you guys: At what point do you give up on a book?

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Another day, another review of a Philippa Gregory book. I feel I must again begin this with the disclaimer that I love her books. However, it’s not unwarranted.

This book was no exception. I was so excited that even though a friend bought me a signed copy, I bought the Kindle copy so that I wouldn’t ruin the physical book. I had waited to read this novel until after I had finished Three Sisters, Three Queens by Gregory, so that I could have my mind set in the correct time period.

This novel is told in three parts, each following one of the Grey sisters. The first section is told by Jane Grey, also known as the “Nine-Days Queen.” She was forced to marry Guildford Dudley and then told that after her cousin Edward died, she was next in line for the throne rather than Mary, who was Henry VIII’s oldest daughter. By all accounts, Jane was reluctant to take the throne, insistent that Mary was the true heir. Her parents and in-laws ignored her and pushed her upon the throne. She was only queen for 9 days until Mary came in and took the throne back. At first, Mary was lenient, leaving Jane in the Tower of London. However, since her father and father-in-law continued to muster forces to put her back on the throne, Mary I saw her as a threat and had her beheaded.

The second part is told through the point of view of Jane’s younger sister Katherine. The bulk of her section occurs after the death of Mary I and the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth I. She had the gall to marry a man she loved (Edward “Ned” Seymour) without Elizabeth’s permission. As she was a princess of the blood (and Elizabeth’s presumptive heir), Katherine needed Elizabeth’s permission to marry. As punishment, Elizabeth throws Katherine into the Tower. We end her section with Katherine as the mother of two strong boys, away from her husband and court.

The third part is told by Mary, Katherine and Jane’s youngest sister. She is of short stature, supposedly having a twisted spine. She’s often juxtaposed against the court dwarf, Thomasina. Like her sister Katherine, she married for love. And, like her sister, she was punished for it.

I really liked that we saw history progress through our three sisters. Each of them lends their own voice to the story. One thing that I noticed was that my love of Elizabeth was lessened because of her treatment of the sisters. She was not what one would call “kind.” This was interesting, as some of Gregory’s previous novels showed Elizabeth in a positive light. I liked that we are shown a different side of her, even if it’s not her best side.

I highly recommend this novel to any history fans. We get to see history through the Grey sisters in a way that only Gregory can show.

 

 

To get your copy of “The Last Tudor” by Philippa Gregory, go here.

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So, I feel like I must begin this review with the following disclaimer: I am a huge Philippa Gregory fan. I’ve read just about every book she’s written about the War of the Roses and the Tudors. That being said, there’s a reason that I’ve read so many of her books: she’s a phenomenal Historical Fiction writer.

For those who may not have heard of this genre before, Historical Fiction is when an author takes a person or event from history and uses facts to create fiction. My first foray into Historical Fiction was with Gregory’s “The Other Boleyn Girl.” Many of you may have seen the movie based on this novel which featured Eric Bana as Henry VIII. Trust me, the book was better

Anywho, on to “The King’s Curse.” This was not one of my favorite novels by Gregory, but I think it may be in part that I don’t know very much about the character Margaret Pole. Yes, she was touched upon briefly in the TV show “The Tudors,” but she was featured more in the show “The White Princess,” which was based on another of Gregory’s novels of the same name. However, it’s hard to really relate to the character, in my opinion. I think it may have been because she was more of a bystander to history rather than being a part of it, even though the whole book was based around the 40 or so years of her life.

The novel starts off with Margaret already married to her husband, Sir Richard Pole. She was married to him against her will in order to “get rid of her name,” as is mentioned multiple times in the novel. This is due to the fact that her birth name is Margaret Plantagenet. For those who do not know, the Plantagenet’s were the ruling family during the War of the Roses. They were usurped by Henry Tudor (Henry VII, Henry VIII’s father) who was married to Elizabeth of York, the daughter of a previous monarch. Tudor won his crown after the death of Richard III at the battle of Bosworth. This is a very important part of the story, as it pertains to the “King’s curse.”

The aforementioned curse is one that has been tossed around in Gregory’s novels multiple times. It states that the family who had ordered the death of the Princes in the Tower would have their line end with a barren woman within a few generations. Many believe that Richard III killed his nephews, but it was never proven. Some even think that the youngest son, Richard, was smuggled out of the Tower and showed up at court during Henry VII’s reign under the name Perkin Warbeck. He was executed as a caveat from Isabelle of Castille before her daughter Katherine of Aragon could marry Henry VII’s son Arthur, the Prince of Wales. So, if Warbeck really was Prince Richard, then the Tudors are indeed cursed.

Arthur and Katherine are married and put under the care of Margaret and her husband in Wales. Within a few months, Arthur dies of the Sweat, a sickness which is also called the “curse of the Tudors.” While many believed that the marriage was consummated, Katherine denies this and goes on to become the first wife of Henry VIII.

Margaret watches as Henry puts Katherine aside because he believed that the marriage between Katherine and Arthur was consummated and thus she could never give him an heir other than the Princess Mary. Margaret was Mary’s guardian since she was born, and she loves her like a mother. Many of Margaret’s actions trace back to this love between a guardian and her charge and Margaret’s desire to keep her royal family out of danger because of their name.

The curse is only believeable because Henry’s only surviving son Edward dies very young with no children of his own. The throne goes to Mary, who marries but also has no children. The Tudor line ends with Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen.

As I said, I believe that the reason I could not get as engrossed in this novel, like I do with most of Gregory’s novels, is because Margaret is more of a bystander rather than an active participant. Her sons were much more active, especially in the Pilgrimage of Faith. Margaret’s inaction in most of these events is understandable, since she didn’t want to draw attention to her family with their Plantagenet blood. However, it doesn’t lead to a very exciting novel.

While I do recommend this novel, as it is very informative, I found it rather dull. I would not recommend this as your first Gregory novel, but if you’ve read some of her work before, it’s definitely a good read. It crosses over some with her other novel “The Constant Princess,” which is based on the life of Queen Katherine of Aragon. I highly recommend reading the War of the Roses novels before this one, since a lot of the events are pertinent to the events that came before. Reading those novels first will provide some more insight.

TLDR; A great read, but read it after the War of the Roses novels

Buy it on Amazon

 

 

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