Henry Tudor came off the battlefield the victor, having defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. He now wears the English crown, but there’s no real sense of victory for him. It’s much the same for Elizabeth, a princess of the powerful House of York and the former lover of the now-dead Richard III. Having placed her faith in Richard winning the battle, when he’s defeated, she loses not only the man she loves dearly, but also her place as the future queen, which she and her family believed was safe. Henry and Elizabeth marry soon after as part of a truce negotiated between the families --- he to show his loyalty to England and she to show loyalty to the new monarchy. Neither is happy with the arrangement, but happiness isn’t something with which they can be concerned.
"It’s been a long time since I’ve read a Philippa Gregory book, and THE WHITE PRINCESS has made me want to pull up a few from her backlist. If you’re a fan of her Cousins’ War series, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one. Drama starts on page one and doesn’t stop until the last page."
Even though the battle has been won and Henry now wears the crown, plots to overthrow the Tudors and bring the Yorks back to power abound. Henry is completely distrustful of his wife and her family. He keeps all of them close but can’t stop the rumors of a York prince waiting for the right time to emerge and claim his crown. Henry is suspicious of everything and everyone, especially after having to put down several rebellions, and learns just how disliked he is in the country. Elizabeth, married to a man she can’t stand and trapped in a political marriage with her own family plotting against her, has no one to turn to --- not even her own mother, who would denounce her if it meant returning the throne to York hands through her son. When the rumors of a York prince become a reality, Henry once more runs out to stamp down rebellious plots, and Elizabeth is left hoping that the person her husband will surely bring home and denounce as the York prince is not the brother she thought was tragically lost.
If you’re interested in Tudor drama full of backstabbing, deceitful people, then this is your book. There are some very unlikable characters in drama-filled situations in THE WHITE PRINCESS. Henry and Elizabeth are distrustful, resentful and hateful toward each other. Their relationship started out poorly and gets even worse before they’re married. Even when he tries to be kind, she lashes out. Elizabeth has spent her life being loved and adored, easily able to charm people with a smile. Henry has no idea what it means to be likable and spent his entire life fighting for a throne and a people he doesn’t seem to like and appears almost incapable of understanding. The relationship is a rollercoaster that never ends.
Henry’s mother, the main figure in his life and the only person he fully trusts, is using her son’s position to take what she feels is hers by right, but sadly she’s only ever viewed as the mother of the usurper king by the people she’s looking to outdo. And Elizabeth’s mother is plotting against her own daughter. Think of that what you will.
There’s so much drama, court intrigue and war in this book, but you don’t see a lot of the outside world due to the fact that it’s so focused on Henry and Elizabeth. Sometimes it’s almost easy to forget that anything besides their hateful marriage is going on. However, it’s Elizabeth’s focus that makes this book so interesting. She may not leave the castles in which she has become imprisoned as a powerless queen, but she is incredibly likable and you come to love seeing her throw sweet yet hateful comments at the king and his mother. As the mother of what is to become the most recognized Tudor in history, Henry VIII, she holds little back when she finally realizes that she has nothing left to lose.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a Philippa Gregory book, and THE WHITE PRINCESS has made me want to pull up a few from her backlist. If you’re a fan of her Cousins’ War series, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one. Drama starts on page one and doesn’t stop until the last page.
Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on July 26, 2013