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The White Queen

Philippa Gregory’s latest novel, The White Queen, opens her series on the War of the Roses with a tale of blood and lust shrouded in historic mythology. Told from the perspective of Elizabeth Rivers, country maiden turned Queen of England; we follow the fall of the House of Lancaster and rise of the house of York through a Romeo and Juliet love story with a conspiring twist.

Elizabeth loses her husband in battle fighting for King Henry, leader of the house of Lancaster. As Lancaster falls and the Yorks take the reigns of Britain she loses her property and in turn her sons inheritance and only hope of a prosperous future. As the daughter of a nobleman she decides to plead with the new king, Edward IV. It is at this fated and possibly magically guided first meeting that our story truly begins. Lust at first sight is followed by a series of desperate mysterious acts, the most fascinating of which is the possible use of magic by Elizabeth’s mother to propagate her daughter’s second marriage. The King, an infamous womanizer, would be nearly impossible to pin down especially when he was still at war. It is implied that a water goddess, Melusina, a fabled descendant of the Rivers line, intervenes after Elizabeth mom invokes her. The Rivers family calls upon Melusina throughout the book for luck and hope bringing fantastical explanations for some quite unbelievable but true turns of events.

Magic aside, it is a beautifully woven story that heeds to the integrity of the historical record while still maintaining the lightness of a beach read. My one complaint would be the repetitiveness of Elizabeth’s language, she at times seems more of a conniving robot then a person but to be fair in order for her rise to power to have been plausible at all she had to have a one track mind.

As summer turns to fall, you may have a hankering to be back in the classroom. With this book you can easily reap all the benefits of a history class plus the easy reading pleasure of a good romance novel.

Written by: Nicole Levitz, September 30th 2009

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