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CarpeLibrum

Carpe Librum

Reviews and bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.

If I am lost, you will find me in medieval England.

You can also find me - and my books - on my blog.

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The White Princess (The Cousins' War, #5)

Reblogged from Carpe Librum:
The White Princess (The Cousins' War,  #5) - Philippa Gregory

I am not even sure where to start with this train wreck of a novel. I almost didn't even read it after being disappointed with the first three in this series. I had passed on #4, but couldn't resist the story of Elizabeth of York. Little did I know that this book is really the story of her brother, Richard Duke of York, told from her insipid first person point of view.

If one is going to write the story of Perkin Warbeck or Richard of York, why not just write that story? Instead, Gregory insists on forcing his story as Elizabeth's, and the result is painful. A majority of this novel focuses on the Warbeck rebellion and the author can't even decide what to call him. This leaves the reader inundated with references to "the boy", incessantly, until it will seep into your nightmares. Just call him Richard or Perkin for heaven's sake! Besides the fact that this "boy" is well beyond what is considered an age of majority and the age that his alleged father was king and battle seasoned warrior. I almost stopped reading, but forced myself to persevere to Elizabeth's ending . . . . which is never reached!

PG ends with

the death of Warbeck and Warwick, not the end of Elizabeth's life. As if the most important, and only, thing that ever happened to her was the York rebellions. Even those aren't covered in their entirety, as Edmund de la Pole is barely mentioned.

(show spoiler)

I am astounded at the number of high ratings this book has received when there is just so much to not like about it.

I had hoped for better. Though disappointed with the first three in this series, I had hoped that somebody would do poor Elizabeth some justice. No characterization of her that I have read has honored this woman who has ties to so many kings. Near the beginning of this book, Elizabeth thinks, "I am, like England itself, part of the spoils of war." I loved this line and its simple, sad truth. It got my hopes up that the rest of the novel would be as beautifully written, that Gregory would surprise me. She didn't.

Before turning too many pages I was sick of hearing Richard III referred to as "my lover." I don't even mind that PG decided to make EofY and RIII lovers. Fine, it's fiction. Whatever. But she's a writer, right? Exercise that vocabulary a little!

If only that was the only example of repetitious, eye-roll inducing, make-me-want-to-throw-this-book-out-the-window vocabulary. Perkin/Richard is always "the boy", RIII is always "my lover", everyone keeps asking "what d'you think/mean", and Elizabeth's answer to every question is always "I don't know". Seriously, I have no idea why this is told from her point of view because the girl never knows anything. To emphasize the fact that she is as slow as her cousin, Edward, she frequently repeats what people tell her in the form of a question, creating some of the least compelling dialog that I have ever read. Dialog is repeated, thoughts are repeated, everything is repeated. The novel could be 100 pages shorter if the author wasn't so condescending to the reader.

Within the first few pages, the characters had been forced into their stereotypical roles of scheming former Queen (Elizabeth Woodville), scheming want-to-be queen (Margaret Beaufort), naïve-lovesick pawn (Elizabeth of York), and insecure cruel tyrant (Henry Tudor). Henry is particularly poorly done as a tyrannical, suspicious, cruel villain. Then Elizabeth starts to love him, but we don't know why. Then he stops loving her, but we don't know why. ugh.

Then we have the magical powers of the York women, which was my least favorite theme in the rest of this series. Labor is painless as floating down the lazy river with Elizabeth Woodville in attendance, and our lovely pair of Elizabeths accidently curse their own descendants though it takes young Elizabeth hundreds of pages to make this connection that the reader made the first time the curse is uttered. Once the light bulb does come on, she is like some kind of prophetess who can foresee the end of the Tudor line with exacting detail. Just don't ask her about anything currently going on or you'll get, "I don't know" (twirls her golden hair).

I'm done. No more PG for me.