I've enjoyed her books in the past, but this one was just horrible. We listened to it on a recent road trip--it was like a bad Harlequin romance (an oxymoron, I know) from the start. We knew every stupid move the narrator was going to make before she did it. The abrupt ending was hours too late. There wasn't a thing I enjoyed about this book. If my spouse hadn't insisted that we listen to the entire thing, I would've quit after the first few chapters.
Read from May 20 to June 06, 2013
I could not bring myself to finish listening to this book---and that's the first time that has happened to me with one of Philippa Gregory's books.
Philippa Gregory didn't do her usual good job of making me care about the characters in this story. I figured it would be easier for me to grow to care for characters I didn't know anything about (unlike in the Boleyn books)---I had no preconceived ideas or feelings about them one way or another. However, there's no depth given to any of the characters in this story to make me care what happens to them beyond the basic historical knowledge I have of what did happen in reality. Perhaps the first-person narrator doesn't work as well in a book like this which tries to cover 20 or so years of history, especially given that most of that history is about the war in which the first-person narrator is not personally involved. But even when the scene does switch over to Edward and the battlefield, there's no emotion in it. It's all just dry prose telling what's happening and a strange emotional detachment from all of the characters.
Compared to the other books of Gregory's that I’ve read (also on audio, The Boleyn Inheritance---a favorite---and The Other Boleyn Girl), it seems like she sacrificed a lot in the way of character development for inclusion of historical events. And, for me, that didn't compel me to keep reading/listening.
However, I will say that I did enjoy the Starz miniseries based on this book (and the other books in this series) much, much more. I might eventually go back and try this one again.
Yes. Very well told story and a good introduction to the War of Roses and the key people involved. Great theory on the boys in the tower and that one could have been a changeling
ya fiction freaks
intriguing, historical, royal
I love all the books in this series. Historical fiction is very interesting to me and this authors writing style is beautiful.
other Cousin's War books, love the voice and accent. Makes is seem as if she really is the true character talking to you.
A War, A Queen
Highly recommend! I love to actually read myself but these books are so good as audios I will only listen to them. :)
I love period stories and this one was just right up my alley. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, along with the historic facts. I couldn't stop listening, and when it was over I wanted more.
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.