Even just casual followers of my blog and my twitter have probably figured out by now I'm a feminist. What isn't so obvious is my equally passionate identity as a history nerd. Probably because it's easier to relate feminism to virginity than it is to somehow connect history to virginity. That is, without having to do extra research.
Anyway. I double-majored in history & French, with a concentration in women's and gender studies. My academic interests often overlap with my leisure activities, like my choice of literature. For this week's Book Club Friday, I'm reviewing a book by my all-time favorite author, Philippa Gregory. She's arguably best-known for The Other Boelyn Girl, but what I finished last weekend was The White Queen, the first book in a new series called The Cousins' War.
The Tudor Dynasty is my favorite time period, hands down. Queen Elizabeth I is my idol. She's like a rock star to me. Excuse me while I fangirl for a moment over England's most notable monarch and one of the world's greatest politicians of all time. *le sigh*
Anyway. I've read all of Gregory's novels that take place in the Tudor Court, but now she's started a series that predates the Tudors, during the Wars of the Roses.
From her website:
Elizabeth Woodville, of the House of Lancaster, is widowed when her husband is killed in battle. Aided and abetted by the raw ambition and witchcraft skills of her mother Jacquetta, Elizabeth seduces and marries, in secret, reigning king Edward IV, of the family of the white rose, the House of York. As long as there are other claimants to Edward’s throne, the profound rivalries between the two families will never be laid to rest. Violent conflict, shocking betrayal and murder dominate Elizabeth’s life as Queen of England, passionate wife of Edward and devoted mother of their children.
Gregory explores the historical mystery of the two lost princes in the Tower. This is what I love best about historical fiction. We have so many gaps in history, especially in regards to people on the margins (the poor, the diseased, women, religious minorities, etc.). Writers like Gregory use their imaginations to fill in the gaps, and we're left with vivid descriptions of secret plots and witchcraft and ambition. At the end of The White Queen, Gregory answers some questions about her work, including the research process. She mentions that while we know the key events during the Wars of the Roses, often the events happened so quickly that we don't know the motivation behind them.
If you enjoy historical fiction, strong female protagonists, and vivid descriptions, then I highly recommend The White Queen.