Philippa Gregory to me is a perfect blend of historically accurate events and author’s crazy imagination. When I read her novels, it is like going back in time. It is very easy to get involved with the story. At this point, after reading about 8-10 of her novels, I like how all these historical figures seem so real. It feels like having coffee with Elizabeth I or knowing what Anne Boleyn was thinking going to a scaffold or what Elizabeth Woodville was feeling, meeting the King in the woods… Like an inside view on the events. Which is so cool, because as a curious person, I am dying to know what is going on behind the scenes.
However, like in every normal and healthy relationship, Philippa Gregory and I have our up and downs. I loved the Cousin’s Was series, which is about the War of the Roses in England during 1455–1485, the fight to the throne between York and Lancaster houses. On the other hand, I did not like The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels that include The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Queen’s Fool, The Virgin’s Lover, The Other Queen and a few more.
I barely survived the boredom of those stories; I have no idea why, since I do enjoy that time period and English history in general. They were like meeh… do not even want to talk about them too much.
The White Queen (Cousin’s War #1)
The first novel is stunning and it follows the life of a woman of extraordinary beauty, courage, wisdom and dignity. Elizabeth Woodville stole the heart of young King Edward IV, secretly married him and against all odds became Queen of England. Elizabeth had to face the court intrigues, where everyone seems against her. The King, her family, many children and the people, adore her. That gives her the strength to stand up against the powerful and merciless Earl of Warwick. While her husband fights for his rightful place on the English throne against another potential heir, Elizabeth deals with court conspiracies and tries to protect her children. In that, she was not always successful, since two of her sons mysteriously disappeared in the Tower and were never seen again.
I liked Elizabeth as the main hero. She was very likable, kind, a great mother, wife, and queen. She dealt with everything she went through, with a lot of dignity, as a real queen should.
The Red Queen (Cousin’s War #2)
The second book, The Red Queen was also great. It covered the same time period as the White Queen, but this time we get to hear the other side of the War of the Roses, the house of Lancaster’s side. It is told from the point of view of the rival Queen, Margaret of Beauford. The most important thing for Margaret is to see her son Henry on the Throne, as he is the only true heir. In order to help him, she is going to do everything possible and not let ANYTHING and ANYONE to stand in her way.
Although it was nice to see another side to the same story, I liked this novel a little bit less than the first one, but mostly because I liked Elizabeth and was cheering for her (York all the way!).
The Lady of the Rivers (Cousin’s War #3)
The third book in the series was The Lady of the Rivers. It focuses on the life of Elizabeth’s mother Jacquetta of Luxembourg. Jacquetta is happily married to the man she loves (very rare at that time, since the marriages were normally arranged by families or even the King). Her husband Richard Woodville is a soldier, a hero and a very good man. They picked wisely their allies and were much respected by the court. Jacquetta comes from a family whose roots are from Melusina, an ancient water goddess. The women in this family can hear the voice of Melusina when someone close to them is about to die. She also has the ability to see the future.
This little touch of magic was very appealing to me. It gave a little extra to the novel and made it stand out for me. I also loved the fact that Jacquetta and Richard’s relationship was actually very good. That is what I call #relationshipgoals. They supported each other through the years; Jacquetta was going after her husband wherever he was sent to with duty, raised their 16 children and was just a normal loving family at that difficult and bloody time.
The Kingmaker’s Daughter (Cousin’s War #4)
Anne Neville was a daughter of the wealthiest and most powerful English nobleman, Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, the Kingmaker. The man who was playing a big role in the War of the Roses. He was supporting Edward IV until he married Elizabeth Woodville without previously advising with the Kingmaker. Neville was trying to crown next one of Edward younger brothers. To see things go his way, he would do anything and use everybody including his daughter Anne. She then marries King Edward’s younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who later became King Richard III. Though the story was mainly about Anne, her father was a big part of it. Anne herself was not a very likable character (not surprising, with a parent like Richard Neville…).
The White Princess (Cousin’s War #5)
Elizabeth of York is destined to be a Queen of England. As a York princess, she is to unite the rival houses of York and Tudor, and finally, bring the peace to the country and end the War of the Roses. To do that, she must marry the man, who took the crown and life from the man she loved. Elizabeth aware of her role and ready for it. Nevertheless, as a princess of the York, she is not trusted by her husband, nor his family. Especially when it seems that her beloved mother, Elizabeth Woodville is raising a rebellion against the King. Can the White Princess earn Kings Trust and keep the desired peace in the country?