Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!
My first Philippa Gregory, picked up partly because it was on sale here at Audible, and partly because I was interested in learning more about the mother of the Princes in the Tower and that particular period of British history, which especially came to my attention when I listened to Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time (narrated by the fantastic Sir Derek Jacobi). Reading Tey's book, I was both impressed and frustrated. Impressed because Tey is such a great story-teller, but frustrated because at that point I knew little to nothing about the main characters involved in this political drama and I resolved to find out more about it so I could read it again eventually and feel I had a better grasp on the events and personalities described.
In that sense, this book has delivered the goods very well. Why go to a work of fiction rather than a no doubt more reliable work of non-fiction? Because I can retain facts much better when they are told to me as a story with interesting characters moved by complex motives. Gergory's work is obviously very well researched and she has a skill for writing compelling stories. Certainly she is never likely to win a literary prize, and I was slightly annoyed when certain details were repeated twice and three times. But otherwise the story of Elizabeth Woodville, who became Queen consort when she married King Edward IV for love—of all things, in an age when marriages were nothing more than political pacts (it was the cause célèbre at the time)—, is here very well told, and from her own perspective so that we get to hear how much influence the women likely had over these great men of power. The story begins in the 1460s, when she first meets the King and compels him to fall in love with her with a combination of charm, great beauty, brains, and if we are to believe the persistent rumours that have always surrounded her, witchcraft as well. She had two sons from a previous marriage to John Grey of Groby, who died fighting for the Lancastrians during the ongoing Wars of the Roses. Her own parents were also Lancastrians, so that while her alliance with a Yorkist King was certainly calculated to promote her and her children's welfare by aligning with the clan in power, it seems this ambitious woman truly loved King Edward and bore him 10 children, including Edward V of England, who was King of England for less than 4 months, and Richard, Duke of York, both Princes in the Tower who disappeared in suspicious circumstances when their uncle Richard III (King Edward IV's youngest brother) kept his nephews imprisoned in the Tower of London in his political machinations to take over the crown. Elizabeth Woodville's oldest daughter, Elizabeth of York, married King Henry VII, and King Henry VIII was one of three surviving children from that union, so that the heroine of this novel is the ancestor of every English monarch since Henry VIII and every Scottish monarch since James V of Scotland through her daughter Elizabeth. A really great read with plenty of political intrigue and romance as well as a good lesson in history. I checked many facts against wikipedia and found everything to be completely in order.
I only wish I'd checked the chronological order of the stories, as would have probably started the series with The Lady of the Rivers, which is third in publication order but tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville's mother, who sounds like a fascinating lady. Jacquetta of Luxembourg had a scandalous second marriage with a man far inferior in rank, Sir Richard Woodville, who served as her first husband, John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford's chamberlain. Believed to be a descendant of the river goddess Melusina, she also allegedly practiced witchcraft, the knowledge of which she passed on to her daughter. I'll probably be moving on to that one next.
Never before have I been interested in this part of history. The book and narration have sparked a hunger for more and I am now listening to the Red Queen. The narrator captures the characters and story line very well and is quite easy to listen to. Amazing! I found myself creating and scheduling time to listen on.
I have nothing to compare it to at this time.
The expressions of her voice bring the story to life in a way that truly complements the written word.
The title is very fitting.
I have read several of Phillipa Gregory's books and have enjoyed them. This one was just too long and it was just the same thing over and over again.
If you are looking for historical account, keep looking, but if you are ready to hear a dramatic story based on some historical facts, then this is an easy listen and an imaginative speculation on "what might have been." The reading was excellent. The story held my interest. Good listen for a long, rainy weekend of distraction-tolerant puttering.
I thought these books were suppose to have some pretty juicy sex scenes...I haven't heard one yet and they have had sex many times already...disappointing me.
great story! instantly draws listener in. narration was also great!
elizabeth woodville; i loved her ambition and her ability to love
jacquetta rivers; would love to hear more about her heritage and her goddess roots
I really tried to get through this one, because I loved "The Other Boleyn Girl," and I loved listening to Susan Lyons. But this story is far different. First, there is too much talk of witchcraft, and indeed, the entire story is based on a premise that Elizabeth and her mother were truly witches. Elizabeth is always "foreseeing" future events, and from almost the very beginning, she can sense the doom surrounding her sons... it just goes on an on entirely too much. I'm all for fantasy, but this isn't what I thought the story was going to be about.
Second, there is a lot of repetitiveness in it...
"Don't go off to war."
"I have to."
"Come back to me."
"Of course I will. But if I do not, take these precautions."
The same scene plays out at least 3 or 4 times, and there are other instances as well of just rewording things that have happened before.
The main characters, both the King and Queen, are portrayed as complete fools. He places his trust again and again in brothers, who, again and again, betray him ruthlessly, yet in between these bouts of betrayal and treason, they all reconcile to live as if nothing ever happened. I know that liberties are taken when writing historical fiction, but it was hard to believe that these things really could have played out that way in reality.
In truth, it felt like "fluff" with no substance. I tried to get through it, but just couldn't keep listening.
Magic, Loss and Love
The accuracy. I love how the story is almost true.
The drama of it all and her accent. Made it real
Plantagents love and war.
I had never been very interested in this time period but the author's use of her factual knowledge as well as fiction to fill in the gaps that you learn a lot while enjoying a story with characters you could relate to.
The historical accuracy.
Elizabeth Woodville, despite the controversy that surrounded her at the time, becomes very endearing and you can't help but root for her.
Once you start this book, it's impossible not to race through all of Phillipa Gregory's books!