The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory

the-kings-curseTitle: The King’s Curse
Author: Philippa Gregory
Series: The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels (formerly The Cousin’s War)
Publisher: Touchstone
Published: August 14th, 2014
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)

Quick Look:

While not my favorite of the Cousin’s War series, I nevertheless loved this book. I’d never heard much about Margaret Pole and I found her story fascinating. Her story also provides a different look at Henry VIII, a point of view I hadn’t thought about. Continue reading

Review: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Title: Changeling
Author: Philippa Gregory
Series: Order of Darkness

This is Gregory’s first venture into the world of Young Adult. I know she can write adult historical fiction novels I love, so I decided to give her Young Adult novel a try and see if she could write that genre as well. As it turns out, she can.

17-year-old Luca has grown up in the monastery, but when he starts asking questions, he’s cast out and accused of heresy. He is recruited by a mysterious order to travel and investigate the evils and dangers people are seeing in the world around them. He must do as he is told and not question his orders, although in his role of inquisitor he will be asking many questions of others. He agrees to become a part of the order; understanding that he is one step away from death and this is his salvation.

Isolde is only 17 when her father dies, leaving her to her brother’s care. Despite being raised to know how to run the home just as well as any man, upon his death her father had changed his will to say she would either marry or be sent to the nunnery. She choses to be sent to the nunnery, but as soon as she arrives, strange things begin to happen that make everyone in the nunnery frightened.

It is these strange occurrences that bring Luca to Isolde, but it is a respect for each other and the truth that keeps them together. I’m glad there’s a slow build between these two. I think anything else wouldn’t feel right, especially given the time period in which the story takes place. I think I can see where this relationship is going and I think I’m going to like it.

The plot is interesting and has me drawn in. I want to see where Luca and Isolde travel and what they face. There were only a couple inquisitions in this novel, but Luca clearly has a level head and thinks things out before taking action. He might be serving the Pope, but he is not going to let emotions cloud his judgment. It will be interesting to see where Gregory takes these characters next.

Changeling is Gregory’s first Young Adult novel, but not her first historical fiction. I knew she’d be able to get the historical feelings across, and I’m happy to say she can write Young Adult just as well as she writes for adults. Gregory has proved, once again, why she’s one of my favorite authors to read.

If Changeling sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Review: The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

Title: The White Princess
Author: Philippa Gregory
Series: The Cousins’ War series
Rating: ★★★★★

Philippa Gregory has written yet another fantastic historical fiction novel. This time it centers on Elizabeth of York, the wife of Henry VII and the mother of Henry VIII. She’s forced into marriage in order to unite the two sides of the Cousin’s War, but rarely feels at peace with her role in the new world her husband is forging. Her story is compelling and rich, and Gregory does an amazing job of telling it.

Elizabeth has always known she would be a pawn somehow, someway. As a female, she can’t rule, but she can give her husband the authority he needs to rule. So when Henry VII defeats her lover Richard III in battle and takes the title of king, she knows it will be her job to marry the victor. Their relationship starts out on horrible terms, with neither trusting the other or even liking each other. They know their marriage is one for show; Henry must marry Elizabeth to show a united front and Elizabeth must marry Henry to show the country who is king.

Even though their relationship starts out on bad terms, they come to form a type of love and respect for each other, even though it can never fully form. Henry doesn’t trust anyone who once sided with the York cause, including Elizabeth. There is always someone around the corner trying to take the throne away from him and that makes it hard for him to trust in others. Even when Elizabeth truly does not know anything about the plots surrounding her husband, the fact that she is a York is enough for Henry to distrust her.

Elizabeth played a different role in this novel than the women of the previous novels. In the previous novels, the women were determined and worked as hard as they could to secure their line on the throne. The men may have gone off to war, but the women were fighting their own battles. For Elizabeth, the struggle isn’t so much for the throne, but for who she is as queen. She is relatively safe with either side on the throne, but she must decide where her loyalties lie. She was raised a York, believing her brothers were the true heirs to the throne. However she creates a new line with the birth of Arthur, the Tudor line. She is played by both sides and must figure out which future she is willing to fight for.

I liked this internal struggle as compared to physical battle. There is still fighting and the battles one expects of a war, but getting inside Elizabeth’s mind as she is isolated yet loved, respected yet distrusted, fought over yet pushed aside was amazing. As much as Henry never felt secure, Elizabeth was just as questionable. Her fate was tied to people she had no control over, but she still fought to make her own path anyway. I wasn’t ready for a character like her, but I’m glad Gregory wrote her the way she did.

The White Princess has a different feel to it when compared to the other novels of the series. The fighting between the cousins has slowed, but not ended, and that leaves room for other factors to come into play. Instead of reading about the fight for a crown, this novel feels more like a fight for loyalties. Do you side with the family you are born with or with the family you have created? It’s a difficult question to answer but I feel like Gregory did a wonderful job looking at how Elizabeth of York handled that very question. This is yet another fantastic novel in the Cousin’s War series and it feels very bittersweet that it’s the second to last novel. Almost every story has been told and as much as I hate to see the end, I am looking forward to reading The Last Rose.

If The White Princess sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Can’t Wait For Monday – The White Princess

I’ve got a to read list a mile long, but I’m constantly adding to it. Every time I come across an amazing series, I’m left waiting for the next book to be released. This Monday, I’m going to talk about the upcoming book in Philippa Gregory’s The Cousin’s War series, The White Princess.

I’ve always been a fan of history and when I stumbled across Gregory’s novel The Queen’s Fool, I knew I had found an author I’d always read. I went through the entire Tudor Court series and was elated when I heard about her Cousin’s War series. I started reading The Lady of the Rivers first, then went back and read The White Queen and The Red Queen as quickly as I could. When The Kingmaker’s Daughter was released last year, I bought it immediately and devoured it. Next up is The White Princess, the story of Princess Elizabeth of York.

From Amazon:

When Henry Tudor picks up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth field, he knows he must marry the princess of the enemy house—Elizabeth of York—to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades.

But his bride is still in love with his slain enemy, Richard III—and her mother and half of England dream of a missing heir, sent into the unknown by the White Queen. While the new monarchy can win power, it cannot win hearts in an England that plots for the triumphant return of the House of York.

Henry’s greatest fear is that somewhere a prince is waiting to invade and reclaim the throne. When a young man who would be king leads his army and invades England, Elizabeth has to choose between the new husband she is coming to love and the boy who claims to be her beloved lost brother: the rose of York come home at last.

I really can’t say how excited I am for this book. Elizabeth and Henry’s marriage is what brought about the end of the Cousin’s War by bringing the York and Lancaster sides together again. After years and years of battles and turmoil, there might finally be peace. Of course, that peace will be disrupted by the missing York prince, Elizabeth’s brother, and the best claimant to the throne. When I try to imagine Elizabeth’s struggle between staying true to the side she was raised to believe was right and the husband she is starting to love, I don’t know what I would do. Obviously we know how things went down in history, but reading Gregory’s interpretation of it will give me even more to think about.

Gregory never disappoints me when it comes to building the fantastic world of the English royals and I have no doubts about The White Princess. It comes out July 23rd and you can bet I’ll be downloading it to my kindle as soon as it becomes available at midnight.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory

Here’s the thing. I love history. A lot. I love when Philippa Gregory novels. A lot. The fact that her books are historical novels makes me nearly giddy. I might love Gregory’s novels to the point I almost hate them just a little bit, too. The Kingmaker’s Daughter was no exception.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter is the story of Anne Neville and her road to becoming queen. It starts when she is 8 years old and ends when she is 28. She starts off as her father’s pawn, a way to move higher in importance by marrying her off to the best offer. Her father uses her to try and win back his power over the king after King Edward’s (of the York side) wife and her family steal his influence away. She is married to Prince Edward of the Lancaster side as a way to buy a tie to the kingship. After her husband dies and the Lancaster line is officially ended, she loses nearly all her potential power and influence.

It is at this moment she starts to make choices for herself. She knows there are very few options to gain independence for herself, so she takes the next best road and marries someone she cares a great deal for, and eventually loves. Richard. I never doubted for a second that they came to love each other. To begin with, it almost feels as though the marriage is one of purpose. She wants to leave the house of her sister and brother-in-law, and Richard wants access to the land, wealth, and power her name brings. But by the end of the novel, there was love there.

The princes in the tower are touched upon, and yet nothing is definitively said about their fate. I like that Gregory doesn’t try to take a side. She keeps that mystery going and I appreciate that.

In the past 3 novels, I had come to form an opinion of Anne Neville and it wasn’t the greatest. Even though I saw her as a product of those around her, I wasn’t overly fond of her character in the last three books. However, when it’s finally her turn to tell the story, I fell in love with her and started to despise characters I had loved previously.

This is what I love most about The Cousins’ War series. In one novel, a character is painted as horrible, but the next makes him or her lovable. There isn’t one “villain” you can root against. They are all good and bad. Gregory has taken the stories we read in history books and made them into people. I can’t get enough of it.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter is yet another brilliant addition to The Cousins’ War series and I’m hopelessly upset I have to wait another year to hear Elizabeth of York’s story.

The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

This book took me a little longer than usual to read, not because of the quality of the writing, but because this was a part of Tudor history I didn’t know much about and I found myself constantly looking up the characters and places Gregory mentioned in the book.

I think writing this book from 3 different first person perspectives gave an interesting view of the time period. Three different people have three very different views of the same event. I found myself constantly thrown for a loop by Mary. She never thought twice about lying and it was interesting to see how she would portray an event to others, and then how she actually thought of the same event.

Bess is one of the best historical fiction characters I’ve read in a long time. From Gregory’s book, as well as the researching I did on my own, I’ve come to really love her strength and determination. She was a smart business woman and used that to her advantage. She worked her way up and earned the things she had, even if it was through marriage, and worked hard to keep herself safe and secure for the future. I think more women in books should be like her.

Yet again, Gregory has me thinking about the little things in history and how one simple decision can change the fate of a country, and the world. While not my favorite book (The Queen’s Fool has that title), it was a great read and sheds more light onto the Tudor era of history.

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

The one thing I usually don’t like when reading books that are a part of a series is repetition of events. Hearing the same thing over and over doesn’t really appeal to me. However, even though this book covers the same events as The White Queen, I’d hardly call it repetitious. The events are looked at through such different lenses, that at times I forgot I had already read about the history.

The White Queen was written from the view of the York side, from Elizabeth Woodville’s point of view, and I found the contrast between her and Margaret wonderful. Elizabeth isn’t afraid to make her own future, and embraces that. Margaret makes her own future, but refuses to call it that. She’s acting for God, doing what He commands her.

Margaret, as a character, is hard to like. She says she is the most faithful and good girl, serving her God, but she is jealous, prideful, vengeful and even a little vain. Even though I did not like her as a person, I could feel for her. She did not have the easiest life. She wanted to mean something more to the world than just a way to continue the Lancaster line. If she needs to disguise this need as serving God, I can understand that.

This is yet another hit for Gregory and I’ll be anxiously awaiting Elizabeth of York’s story.

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Yet another amazing Gregory book. Her writing makes me think about history and I perform more Google searches when I read her books than at any other time. I love finding more about the people she writes and the places her stories take place. There is so much history that happens in such little time, but Gregory makes it all interesting.

It was fascinating to read about Elizabeth’s life. Gregory wrote her as an ambitious woman who knows what she wants and works to get it. She knows that while men hold the most visible power in the world, the women hold a secret power that can change lives.

Even though we may never know exactly what happened during these times, the motivations of people, or the true emotions involved in their lives, Gregory is able to weave such a wonderful tale, even tying in a magical element which makes it nearly impossible to put this book down.

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

I adore Philippa Gregory and will read pretty much anything she writes. She is able to bring such life into the history and brings light to those stories that aren’t very well known in the history books.

This book was wonderful. I had known a bit about the War of the Roses, but this book brought a whole new light to the conflict. I will admit to sitting down and drawing out a chart just so I could keep all the players in this war straight. Add in the touch of magic and I was completely drawn in.

Jacquetta is a strong, smart woman in a time when that was looked down on. She knows she needs to hide the power she has from the important men in the country, but she doesn’t hide so much that she comes across as weak. She knows how to get things she wants using her head and not her body, which is a wonderful change from Gregory’s Tudor series and I think it makes her a better character overall.

Overall, this was a fantastic book and Gregory has yet again drawn me into her writing and I can’t wait to finish the rest of this series.