Love, betrayal and royalty

2009-12-09 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

The White Queen

Philippa Gregory

Simon & Schuster

A GRIPPING saga of love, betrayal, ­female strength and chopped-off heads is an apt way to describe The White Queen.

I can’t say that the period had previously held much fascination for me, but once I started reading about the life of Elizabeth Woodville, I was ­entranced.

Elizabeth’s exquisite beauty helps her to capture the attention of Edward IV of the House of York. They marry and she ascends to the throne. A dream come true and a fairytale ending with the man she desires? Not quite. The historical novel captures the constant battle that royalty then faced to keep themselves aloft the throne.

Today’s Queen Elizabeth has a right royal time in comparison. No hand-to-hand mortal combat for Charles et al. No heads being lopped off left, right and centre and no having to cower in the Tower of London when some old rival decides to mass the troops. Royalty sure isn’t what it used to be.

Interwoven in Elizabeth’s story is the theme of magic as Elizabeth weaves her spells to get what she wants. These show her relationship with the elements, where her intuition is strongly trusted but curses muttered to the wind take hold and then rebound. The mermaid myth of Melusina is another fascinating facet of the story.

Lots of subtexts and lots of drama make it an enjoyable read by the ­author of The Other Boleyn Girl.

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