This is the first of her War of the Roses novels which will be followed by The Red Queen coming out in 2010 and the White Princess at a later date. I haven’t read very many novels that painted a sympathetic portrait of Elizabeth Woodville as this one did. Most paint an unflattering portrait of her as a power hungry queen, possibly involved in witchcraft, and whose main focus was the advancement of her own family.
In Gregory’s novel, Elizabeth Woodville’s marriage to Yorkist King Edward IV is one of love. It is interesting that the union happened at all considering her family was staunchly for the House of Lancaster previously. It begins with Elizabeth’s fateful meeting with Edward and takes us through her secret marriage, the births of her many children, and her battles with several different entities to protect her family (Margaret of Anjou and the Lancasters, Edward’s brothers Richard and George, and several other noblemen who threw their lots in with whomever could get them the best deal and most prestige).
Two interesting theories that Gregory chose to incorporate into the novel are the claim that the Woodville family was descended from the Goddess Melusine and the women had special “powers” and that one of the Princes may have survived and escaped to Flanders (known as the Perkin Warbeck conspiracy).
It was definitely an interesting viewpoint of the War of the Roses and allows you to see Elizabeth Woodville as a human being and get some insight into why she may have made some of the decisions she did throughout her life. I think though that I would have gotten more out of this book had I waited for The Red Queen and The White Princess to come out and then read them all in succession. I have a feeling that each book will enrich the other two and make for a better story. Overall I would say this Gregory novel was middle of the road-a category I would put the 2nd and 3rd books in her Wideacre Trilogy and the Virgin’s Lover in. It’s a good read f you don’t mind a little romance in your history and an author that strays off the historical accuracy path in the interest of a good story.
If the FTC is wondering: This book is from my own personal library