The newest novel from #1 New York Times best-selling author and "queen of royal fiction" (USA Today) Philippa Gregory tells the passionate story of Elizabeth of York, daughter of the White Queen, who gets caught in the middle of a battle for the crown of England.
The White Princess opens as the news of the battle of Bosworth is brought to Princess Elizabeth of York, who will learn not only which rival royal house has triumphed, Tudor or York, but also which suitor she must marry: Richard III her lover, or Henry Tudor her enemy.
A princess from birth, Elizabeth fell in love with Richard III, though her mother made an arranged betrothal for her with the pretender to the throne: Henry Tudor. When Henry defeats Richard against all odds, Elizabeth has to marry the man who murdered her lover in battle, and create a new royal family with him and his ambitious mother: Margaret Beaufort, The Red Queen. But, while the new monarchy can win, it cannot, it seems, hold power in an England which remembers the House of York with love.
The new king’s greatest fear is that somewhere, outside England, a prince from the House of York is waiting to invade and re-claim the throne for the house of York. Fearing that none of his new allies can be trusted, Henry turns to his wife to advise him, all the time knowing that her loyalties must be divided. When the young man who would be king finally leads his army and invades England, it is for Elizabeth to decide whether she recognizes him as her brother and a claimant to the throne, or denies him in favor of the husband she is coming to love....
©2013 Philippa Gregory (P)2013 Simon & Schuster
I truly don't know where to start with how much I disliked this book so I'll actually begin with the few positives.
Bianca Amato's narration was extraordinary and the only feature that allowed me to finish this novel.I have listened to books she has read in the past where I wasn't in love with her voice, but for this book, her voice was well-paced and soothing to listen to. She got the gender voices done without over-exaggerating the differences. Truly, I would not have finished this book (and almost didn't) but for the narration. I have never put those words in a review before.
The novel brings the War of the Roses series to a conclusion and merges it into the Tudor series (The Constant Princess would logically follow from the conclusion of this story). I'm very glad Ms. Gregory wrote the Tudor books and The White Queen first so that I know that, somewhere, she has some knowledge of the time period. This book most certainly does not demonstrate any such knowledge.
The negatives are based in the "levels" of the book that Ms. Gregory defines at the end in her "Author's Note." Apparently, her intent was to create a "novel about a mystery that has never been solved." Therefore, she unabashedly makes stuff up left and right throughout the entire novel. I would love to see a single piece of historical research that even hints that Henry VII raped Elizabeth of York repeatedly prior to their wedding in order to see if she was fertile and only married her once she became pregnant. For Tudor fans out there who have done an iota of research, this is painful to read material. I completely understand that Ms. Gregory is of the school of thought that one of the two princes survived the Tower of London and that Richard III was not responsible for their deaths. I'm not taking a stand on that question in this review -- even if you accept as true that the younger prince (who would have rightfully been Richard IV of England) was not in the Tower of that he somehow survived or that someone other than Richard III or one of his minions killed the princes, the story doesn't work.
I will give a fiction writer every reasonable inch of "willing suspension of disbelief" to allow them to tell their story. What I will not enable with any positive comments is not warning the reader in advance that the author's plan is to do so. A recent book called "The Boleyn King" says at the outset: what if Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII had a son and Anne Boleyn was not executed? That is a very good premise for a novel and I enjoyed the story. It was fun, it was completely against any and all historical facts and I had no problem with the story BECAUSE of the disclosure. Ms. Gregory attempts in her Author's Note to justify her diversion from anything resembling truth.
Even more grating was the author's use of repetition as a literary tool. I've complained about this style in other novels she has written (specifically, "The Red Queen"), but she perfected whiny repeated phrases in this most recent epic tale. Once again, I found myself thinking "ok Philippa, I get it... Henry VII is afraid of 'the boy' who might be young Richard... I get that Henry VII and his ridiculous mother, Margaret Beaufort, trust no one and have a spy network. I get that Elizabeth of York is emotionally torn between her duties as a York princess and her duties as a Tudor wife." I felt like my ears were bleeding from the use of the words: "the boy." I'd be very interested to see a proportional word count of how many times that phrase appears. It could easily be up to 25% of the words in the entire novel. Maybe it's the presence of Margaret Beaufort -- the repetition was ghastly in the novel about her as well.
I have never, ever given a story one star until today. This book was simply horrible. Ms. Gregory fails in her attempt to re-write history; written by the victors or not. The characters are shallow and false. The writing is borderline unbearable. The "mystery" that is "solved" by the novel has nothing to do with Elizabeth of York so even the title of the book is misleading. If Ms. Gregorty wanted to write a "what if" story about the younger prince in the Tower, she should have called it "The Missing Prince" or something else that more truthfully highlights what the story is about -- not used an interesting woman from York/Lancaster/Tudor times and crammed her into being the emotional outlet for a fairytale that has no basis in fact.
If you have read all of the other books and really want to finish the story, go ahead and wade through this tome. Otherwise, use your credit more wisely.
Patience. This is, without doubt, the most repetitive book I've read, including cookbooks. I dare you to take a sip of wine every time "the boy" is mentioned in the latter half of this book and try to finish a chapter before passing out. Truly, this story (don't confuse it with history) could have been told in one-third the length.
Nearly every one of Elizabeth's thoughts, and her conversations with Maggie, with Henry, with Margaret, with her mother (notice a pattern?), are repeated almost verbatim and/or paraphrased multiple times -- some ad nauseam. Entire chapters consist of repetitions, with only one new minor point plot offered. Describing being drawn and quartered once in excruciating detail will suffice, thanks. Just write "drawn and quartered" after that, we're smart enough to know what you mean. We don't need to be lectured in almost identical detail twice, and partially a third time . . . maybe more. I confess I drifted off a number of times, but I doubt I missed anything I hadn't heard previously several times.
If I hadn't liked The White Queen so much, I wouldn't have persevered to finish, hoping for more and better. It's hard to swallow the premise that the calm, poised, wise-beyond-her-years Elizabeth of The White Queen would develop a grand passion for her uncle, who betrayed a promise to her father, imprisoned and potentially murdered her dear brothers. Cultivating his interest for strategic reasons to protect the Woodvilles may make have made sense. The main characters are static over a near 15-year time span, never growing or learning from their mistakes. If Henry VII was as incapable, cowardly, sniveling, and mother-dominated as depicted here, his uncle would have made a deal with the Yorks to knock him off as soon as there was an heir and a spare, putting the York-Tudor hybrid Arthur on the throne. In reality, history suggests Henry VII had no mistress after marriage to Elizabeth, that Elizabeth and Henry had a successful perhaps loving marriage, that Margaret Beaufort was not an ogre, that Henry's reign was more successful, etc.
What a disappointment!
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
No, not quoting Macbeth in comparison to this work of historical fiction, merely trying to illustrate how repetition consumes this novel. If you've read several of Philippa Gregory's works, you know the recipe of a little fact; a lot of conjecture; and a great deal of restating the same ideas. These works are B+ romantic novels and I'm not embarrassed to admit I enjoy some of her books.
It doesn't put me off how she takes leeway with some facts. Having read several of her Tudor novels, I was empowered to read and research material on the subjects on my own. Enjoyed the journey to discovery.
I had high hopes wanting to know about Henry VIII's mother and the childhood of the four children. Minimal pages are devoted to the offspring and quick references to Henry's gluttony of food and playing games were given paucity of attention. The beginning was interesting (even if not historically correct) and I sympathized with Elizabeth being trapped in a loveless marriage. However, the next 3/4 of the book regurgitated the same idea of how Henry VII was a usurper and his paranoia of chasing the possibility a true York king coming to take his throne were churned out superfluously.
Greggory should take her time and get back to the originality and fervent storytelling from her earlier novels instead of churning out books so quickly. Ignore the big paychecks for quantity and take time for quality.
I don't know. Someone who can tolerate repetition and an annoying, weak, and indecisive Queen.
I have to check my wish list but I think I may read about Queen Isabella of Spain by another author.
I don't think I had a favorite. I did enjoy the brief period of Elizabeth & Henry being in love but that did not last long.
The second and third parts of this book were horrible. It went on and on and on! I don't think I could listen to the phrases "I don't know" or "the boy" any longer. It started off strong but it should have been written from another perspective. This book was barely about Elizabeth of York. It was all about a paranoid Henry and "the boy". I am so disappointed because I love this series. I wish we could have learned a little more about her kids. Elizabeth just came off whiny and weak. I wish it would have extended further into Arthur's death.
I was highly disappointed in this book. I had been waiting for it since before she wrote "The Kingmaker's Daughter". Elizabeth was not likeable at all. She was weak and indecisive and intolerable. The portrayal of Henry was ridiculous. I know she takes liberties with the history but this was just too far out there. It was not believable at all. How can a king spend so many of his years reign being paranoid about "the boy" and when he finally gets him he does not execute him because he is infatuated by his wife!!! I almost couldn't listen to the whole thing. I had to force myself to finish it. I have never been so happy to have an audiobook end. The only good thing about this book was Bianca Amato.
The theme and dialogue is quite repetative, and feels boring. I had waited for this biik with such excitement and anticipaption and was disapointed. I am also tired of all the references to Melucina.
She did not need to keep repeating the same things in different ways over and over. I also think more could have been done with the alliance with Spain, Arthur's death and the arrival of the Infanta.
Bianca Amato is a wonderful narrator and does as much as anyone can with a weak story.
THe White Princess had so much potential and was such a disapointment.
Yes, I liked most of her other books
There was so much repetition, it got really boring.
The repetitiveness. This is a problem that I'm noticing in more and more of Gregory's books. The same lines, descriptions, conversations are repeated over and over again. And after characters as strong and determined as Jacquetta, Margaret, and Elizabeth York, this Elizabeth was a bit of a letdown.
She never seemed to act. I know that she had very little power, but she was so complacent.
Since this was all from Elizabeth's point of view, I wish that more of the story could have reflected her life outside of Henry. I would have liked to hear more about her relationship with her children and with Maggie. It would have broken up the monotony of the "I've been forced to marry my enemy" repetitiveness.
Impatience, then disappointment because I thought there would be scenes between her and Katherine of Aragon.
I agree with most reviews, so I'll just go to the point...too long, repetitious, tedious.
I couldn't wait to finish it, which is the first time I feel this way about a Phillipa Gregory book. Bianca Amato made it worth listening to it.
Since this is historical fiction and NOT HISTORY, I won't try to criticize the facts and her view of them, only the way she chose to present them.
Hearing "The Boy" in every other sentence was extremely irritating.
Too bad. It was a fascinating period of history.
Yes. I typically enjoy Philippa Gregory's books. The narration was excellent. The Cousin's War series is not fantastic. This book is repetitive and dull. I'm about 15 hours in and may not finish it. If I hear the term "The Boy" one more time my head may explode. Elizabeth's character is washy-washy. I sorta want to slap her. Most of her dialogue is just repeating what Henry is asking her. I don't buy how she goes from hating him to being passionately in love with him in a minute without some heroic, sexy act on his part. Yawn.
I enjoy this series but I feel like part of the story kept being repeated in dragged on. Unabridged version of this book would be suitable to cover the material. The performance by the reader was good.
"Eye wateringly terrible"
If you don't know history and you hate the Tudors this book is right up your alley. If you have a fanatical love of Richard III and you hate storytelling/compelling characters, this is your story.
Maybe be a little less obviously a Bride of Gloucester, It was written very quickly, the protagonist is boring and has no soul. All she says is "I don't know" .
The reader was ok, but i feel even she was bored by the story, she brought the male voices to life though.
The rape scene is unfounded, not in history. Apparently Elizabeth and her husband got on well. so I'd cut most of the third book.
"The red queen and her son cast as vilians - again."
While Philippa Gregory's novels are generally well written with at least a founding in history - this novel makes me very angry. Historians, generally agree, that while Elizabeth and Henry's marriage was political, genuine affection soon developed between them. The idea that Henry would rape Elizabeth is absurd! This novel makes Henry out to be a weak man, ruled completely by his mother - Which is a poor portrayal of a man that rarely saw his mother and fought his entire youth for his crown. Was Henry a calculating man? Yes. Did he take much advice from his mother? Yes. But he was not a weakling!
"This download does not work, help doesn't- BEWARE"
If the download worked or if Audible replied to e-mails as their information says they will. I e-mailed Sunday and by Friday nothing, in my book response within 2 days means Weds at the latest, beware poor service. If no response by next Friday I will post on all the social media I belong to to warn others of my poor experience
A great read for fans of Philippa Gregory
I have purchased a lot of Philippa Gregory's work, in one format or another, so I eagerly awaited the release of this one, having enjoyed the others.
The White Princess is an excellent read, but really has to be considered as fiction rather than history. These characters existed in history, but so much has been assumed or guessed at in this book that I wouldn't necessarilly believe any of it!
"Great telling of one of the possibilities"
Henry's character was interesting - in this version of what might have happened he grows into kingship and then seems to lose it again.
I wish she'd not pronounce "off" as "orf" - it really grated on me, but her characterisation was good.
"I don't know" - it's all Elizabeth seems to say :)
"Terrific Tudor Tale"
The White Princess is my first Phillipa Gregory listen, although I have read and watched The Other Boleyn Girl. Having watched the dramatisation of the White Queen on TV recently, I was keen to know what happens next. This captivating take on real history certainly rates as one of my books of the year.
I really enjoyed the combination of historical facts and the characters had great depth.
Bianca Amato's narration is very good and suits the story well.
The character of Henry Tudor is fascinating. I wanted desperately to find some redeeming features, but his paranoia and cruelty made him look anything but kingly.
If you like historical fiction, you will love this.
"A nice follow up after the BBC series."
Entertaining story and a nice, believable, version of the events.
I think the White Queen.
She does a great voice switch between the characters without being a caricature.
It made me laugh a few times due to the excellent performance.
This was my first audio book and now I am hooked.
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