Elizabeth Woodville a strong, ambitious commoner marries Plantagent King Edward for love. The York family featured in this book is part of Gregory’s ..Show More »“Cousins War” series exploring the War of the Roses from different sides. This was my first book in the series and while I enjoyed learning a little history while being entertained, I won’t read any of the others immediately; maybe at a later date. All Philippa Gregory books I’ve read are interesting, a little fact mixed with fiction, drama, intrigue, and love interests blended in a standard formula. You can enjoy and multitask simultaneously. Narrator delivers a solid performance with strong voice for Elizabeth and moves seamlessly between other characters.
Starz miniseries “The White Queen” airs in August exploring the stories of Elizabeth, Margaret Beaufort, and Anne Neville. Listening has given me enough background to prep and hopefully enjoy the new series. Reports thus far give the drama good marks and name Rebecca Ferguson as a possible breakout star. This book was worth my credit.
Fluidly written and wonderfully narrated, THE RED QUEEN provides an engrossing portrait of Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VII, first of the Tu..Show More »dor rulers. From early childhood, Margaret is enthralled by the story of Joan of Arc, and longs to emulate her in a life of piety and heroic deeds. Instead, she's married off at the age of twelve to a much older man, and gives birth at age thirteen. As she endures these tribulations, she hardens in her conviction that God has chosen her for a special destiny, and focuses all her will on the Lancaster cause and her son Henry, taken from her at an early age and awarded to a series of guardians. Unfortunately for the reader, the sorrows and tragedies of her life harden Margaret into a narrow-minded fanatic, who has little compassion or empathy for those around her. Her second husband, Henry Stafford, is a kind, gentle, and wise man who adores her and treats her with kindness and consideration, but blinded by ambition and with a heart turned to stone, she does not return his love, choosing time and again to betray him politically in favor of her Lancaster relations. The book is very interesting, and I really like the narrator, but I'm afraid I have little sympathy for Margaret, who is hopelessly self-centered, priggish, and narrow-minded. It's a compelling glimpse into a period of history that I'm not that familiar with, and Philippa Gregory's interpretation of Margaret Beaufort's character does explain many of Margaret's real-life deeds, but she is not nearly as sympathetic as the protagonist of THE WHITE QUEEN, Elizabeth Woodville. Well worth a listen if you're interested in the War of the Roses, but don't expect to like Margaret very much.
I was reluctant to download this book and devote time to it. Ms. Gregory's last book, The Red Queen, was weak both in story and in substance. I felt..Show More » vested in the author's continuing telling of the War of the Roses characters and I knew I had some listening time so I committed the credit.
SO glad that I did ! The story of Jacquetta, Dowager Duchess of Bedford and mother to Elizabeth Wydville of "The White Queen," is fascinating in the extreme. This is, naturally, a novelization of her life, but Ms. Gregory fills in period details, politics and sociology in a beautiful blending of fact and fiction. The society's fixation on the unexplained as "witchcraft" is a theme of the novel which travels from Joan of Arc to the rise of King Edward IV (The Duke of York). It is a prequel to The Red and White Queen stories and both characters from the prior novels are re-introduced as children.
The narrator was outstanding. Her voice was extremely fluid and melodic. As I listened, I felt soothed while still being wholly entrapped in the story. It was like not being able to put a book down; I quite literally had my earbuds in my ears around the clock. Since I usually knit while listening, I got a LOT of work on my Christmas projects done. My sole criticism of the book is that, as with the Red Queen, there are a few too many repetitive passages -- I understood almost immediately that Jacquetta knew she shouldn't be telling fortunes with tarot cards; Ms. Gregory did NOT need to repeat the same passage of writing fifteen or twenty times.
All in all, a great read of a very good story. Good choice for fans of Philippa and also for those who want to learn about pre-Tudor English history without reading Allison Weir's non-fiction epics (which I also read).
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 narratio..Show More »n 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.
OK......I know this book has received overwhelmingly positive response thus far, but I'm not at all impressed after waiting through a pre-order perio..Show More »d to buy it. I'm a big fan of Philippa Gregory and a devotée of the Tudors and Henry VIII. I've listened to all of "The Cousins' War" series and enjoyed them all. But 24 hours of Lady Margaret Salisbury, written in this manner, is just way too much! I'll just have to "take one for the team" and amass a collection of "Not Helpful" votes. Oh, well, I'm calling it like I see it.
This COULD have been a good book and a perfect ending to the "Cousins" series. But Gregory made Lady Margaret Pole incredibly unlikeable. In the hundreds of book that I've read about this era, I always felt sorry when elderly Margaret was executed. But, in THIS book, I wanted to execute her myself about 4 hours in! Pole is depicted as narcissistic, ungrateful, snobbish, ungracious, devious, duplicitous, haughty, evil, and hateful. I got so sick of her whining about the Plantagenets being undermined by the Tudor dynasty that it was a wonder that Henry The SEVENTH didn't behead her for treason!!! Did she forget that there WAS once a Plantagenet dynasty and that dynasties all eventually END?
Pole, an overt snob, claims to know what is in the minds of the common people during King Henry's crazed years. Gregory has her giving long discourses into the feelings and thoughts of the English commoners - all while looking down her long nose at anyone who doesn't have royal blood. I don't think she even allowed her tenants to enter her orbit, much less a tinker or tanner in the local pub. Her conceit is unparalleled! In first person singular, Pole tells us how good looking she is, how accomplished she is, what a great mother she is, what a fabulous estate manager she is - on and on and on - in ad nauseum!
I'm not one for abridged books, especially in fiction. However, this would have been a much better book if it was about 12 hours shorter. So much is repeated over and over in this story. Margaret whines and complains for hours about stuff she considers to injustices or depravation but to others would be blessings. When she is widowed, left virtually penniless (by HER standards), and is unable to feed her children, she begs Bishop John Fisher for help in finding a religious order to take in her family. But when he finds a perfect situation for her and her 2 youngest children, along with a place nearby for her other young son Reginald, at first she bitches about it all being way "beneath a Plantagenet"! Marge! You are broke! You can't house or feed yourself! Royal blood don't buy milk and bread, heifer!!!
Just about everyone who would find this book interesting already knows a little bit about King Henry, Queen Katherine of Aragon, Princess Anne, and Anne Boleyn. But Gregory has to give the "4-1-1" on every little thing of all of the key players like we didn't know a thing about the Tudors. To harp incessantly on the minutiae of those figures in a book which is supposed to be about the life and times of Margaret, Countess of Salisbury is unnecessary. Especially since this is the 6th in a series that many of us have already read. In addition, Pole seems to appear everywhere in this story like a Tudor-era "Forrest Gump"! When did she have time to be a wife, run several estates, making herbal potions and drugs, physically micro-managing the tenant farms, give birth to a half dozen children, be a "governess/companion/BFF" to Arthur, Katherine, Henry, and Mary, all while overseeing more political intrigue than MI-5?! On top of that, Gregory has everyone aging appreciably except Margaret, as if she was some kind of "Dorian Gray" character. As a grandmother, she admonishes her middle aged son, Lord Montagu, for his grey hair, claiming it made HER look old! As if he had access to "Grecian Formula"!
Another issue I had is with the narrator, Bianca Amato. She is usually a fantastic and capable artist. Here she makes a great Lady Margaret, although her voice soon becomes irritating reading this unusually long and mawkish story. She narrates like she's giving a funeral eulogy! But that's the fault of the author and the length of this audiobook. A funeral lasts a comparatively short time. And why didn't Amato give Queen Katherine a Spanish accent? Katherine's cultured clipped tones are what makes her such an enduring historical favorite. That accent is as critical to her persona as her stoic dignity and unwavering faith in God. One cannot imagine her without that voice after seeing "The Tudors" on cable television.
I made it a point at about 50% into this torture to just look up Pole in Wikipedia. In real life, she was a force to deal with, in and out of favor with King Henry, but seemed to do her best to keep her nose clean. Even then, with all of connections, one would think that she would have been a bit more cautious in her dealings with the King and his posse. Her biggest mistake was not remarrying a peer and keeping her family together. Abandoning young son Reginald to the church later caused the entire Pole family undue hardships. Although he became a scholar, a canon, a papal Legate and Archbishop of Canterbury and was an integral member of Henry's court, he later broke completely with the King, making any communication between him and his mother and brothers treasonable. Margaret and her entire family have a great story to tell on their own strength, but Gregory gave too much weight to ancillary characters and inserted improbable scenarios which stretched the credibility even allowed by the literary license of historical fiction. She also sets up Margaret up for a well-deserved march to the executioner's block by putting her in the middle of every scandal and act of treason possible.
Others may enjoy giving up 24 hours of their life to this tome. Personally I found this to be a disappointing end to an otherwise MOSTLY great series. OFF WITH HER HEAD - in 12 hours or less!!