Category Archives: Phillippa Gregory

>Audio Book Review: The Virgin’s Lover by Philippa Gregory

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The Virgin’s Lover by Philippa Gregory
ABRIDGED Audio CD, 0 pages
Published November 16th 2004 by Simon & Schuster Audio (first published 2004)
ISBN074353980X (ISBN13: 9780743539807)
Borrowed from a friend’s personal library, thank you!

The Burton Review Rating: I expect it would have been a 3 star read had I read it two years ago.

Longest synopsis ever:

“In the autumn of 1558, church bells across England ring out the joyous news that Elizabeth I is the new queen. One woman hears the tidings with utter dread. She is Amy Dudley, wife of Sir Robert, and she knows that Elizabeth’s ambitious leap to the throne will pull her husband back to the very center of the glamorous Tudor court, where he was born to be. Amy had hoped that the merciless ambitions of the Dudley family had died on Tower Green when Robert’s father was beheaded and his sons shamed; but the peal of bells she hears is his summons once more to power, intrigue, and a passionate love affair with the young queen. Can Amy’s steadfast faith in him, her constant love, and the home she wants to make for them in the heart of the English countryside compete with the allure of the new queen? Elizabeth’s excited triumph is short-lived. She has inherited a bankrupt country, riven by enmity, where treason is normal and foreign war a certainty. Her faithful advisor William Cecil warns her that she will survive only if she marries a strong prince to govern the rebellious country, but the one man Elizabeth desires is her childhood friend, the irresistible, ambitious Robert Dudley. Robert revels in the opportunities of the new reign. The son of an aristocratic family brought up in palaces as the equal of his royal playmates, Robert knows he can reclaim his destiny at Elizabeth’s side. Elizabeth cannot resist his courtship, and as the young couple slowly falls in love, Robert starts to think the impossible: can he set aside his wife and marry the young queen? Philippa Gregory’s The Virgin’s Lover answers the question about an unsolved crime that has fascinated detectives and historians for centuries. Philippa Gregory uses documents and evidence from the Tudor era and, with almost magical insight into the desires of Robert Dudley and his lovers, paints a picture of a country on the brink of greatness, a young woman grasping at her power, a young man whose ambition is greater than his means, and the wife who cannot forgive them.”

My first audio book ever is The Virgin’s Lover by Philippa Gregory. I have had the text version for several years but could not bring myself to pick up another story on Elizabeth that had a potential of being a let-down. Since I know the political upheaval that occurred during the transition of Queen Mary to the reign of Queen Elizabeth, I figured the test of my attention span to the audio version would be best served on this kind of average fiction.

The narrator was superb in this story. He enunciates well and with a British accent that was not too thick but just enough to make listening to his voice pleasurable. But I did find it difficult to concentrate on the audio, with my hands and eyes having nothing to do I had to force myself to concentrate on using my ears only. Which is difficult for this mind wanderer. I did enjoy hearing how some of favorite places were pronounced, as a sheltered American I have been butchering many British names and places in my mind. Oops.

As far as the actual story goes, there is not much to be said that is not expected. Amy Dudley, Robert Dudley, and Elizabeth are at the foremost of the story as their little weird love triangle evolved, with William Cecil looking on. The characterization of the “lovers” makes you shudder (fluttering eyelids, etc.), and the intensity of the love between Dudley and Elizabeth is bordering on absurd. Which is the reason I didn’t want to read the book before. But this is coming from someone who has read many, many Tudor themed books before, and perhaps for a newbie to the era who has not come to admire Elizabeth I as much as I do would not be so turned off from Gregory’s telling. It was Gregory, after all, who pulled me into the Tudor courts of intrigue and sexual exploits with her rendition of The Other Boleyn Girl in the first place. If I had read The Virgin’s Lover after Gregory’s The Boleyn Inheritance a few years ago, I may have had a much better chance of enjoying this one.

The supporting characters being Amy Robsart Dudley (who died from a questionable fall down the stairs) and William Cecil make the story less bawdy. Portraying Elizabeth as acting a lovesick teenager is not exactly the image I wish to explore of the monarch, but I am glad to finally cross this one off of my tbr list. Of Gregory’s novels, I disliked The Other Queen which featured Elizabeth I as well, so perhaps I should stay away from those stories that embellish and try to tarnish the virginal image that I admire of Elizabeth. I did enjoy Gregory’s last two novels in The Cousins’ war series, and The Queen’s Fool was very well done as well, so I am not one of those readers who despises the author.

The positive to this story was seeing how Robert Dudley was viewed, and disliked, in Elizabeth’s courts. Here he is portrayed as an upstart, or usurper, with eyes for the crown of England for himself. Whereas in previous reads, Dudley had intrigued me, here he disgusted me. He treats his wife Amy shabbily, and I could not help but pity the woman he ignored. If she left a diary, I would love to read it. After Amy is gone, Robert thinks his path should be clear to Elizabeth’s side as a King, but Cecil made sure that would not happen. I would have preferred a bit more insight or something more dramatic for the ending, as it all just seemed a bit unfinished overall and I wasn’t expecting the story to end where it did. Yet, viewing this as a simple story of Robert Dudley and his relationship with Elizabeth, it could be seen as a fair assessment of a specific political slice of a much larger picture during Elizabeth’s reign. The author also raised my curiosity regarding the mysterious death of Dudley’s wife and her theory bears credence. Those who revere Elizabeth should stay away from this weak portrayal of her, though. William Cecil, on the other hand, was the best part of the story. He was shrewd, calculating and a force to be reckoned with.

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Filed under 16th Century, Elizabeth I, Phillippa Gregory, Robert Dudley

>Goodreads Interview of Philippa Gregory

>Book bloggers everywhere are touting the newest Philippa Gregory release, The Red Queen, as a success.. me being one of them. I have a giveaway going on here at The Burton Review for the first two books in the series of The Cousins’ War, and a hardcover giveaway chance at The Historical Fiction Connection site. Be sure to enter at both blogs to increase your odds!

I was very intrigued with the interview that has posted at Goodreads with Philippa Gregory.
First of all, there are going to be at least SIX books in the Cousin’s War series!! Something to look forward to, probably to be released yearly. If the books continue to be entertaining I will eagerly await each one. She is also working on a collaboration book with David Baldwin, who wrote and excellent bio on Elizabeth Woodville that I enjoyed.

Another interesting tidbit is that even though the newest book The Red Queen is Lancastrian in nature, the author herself is a Yorkist who still believes that Richard III should have been the true King. I would never have guessed this after reading The Red Queen. I am on the fence, but wanting to lean towards Lancastrian as they had the most legitimate descendancy according to a line I recall from the newest novel.

Philippa’s favorite historian is Alison Weir, whom I have found other readers loving to hate, just as they do Philippa Gregory. I like them both. I still have many of her reads to get to, as well the rest of Philippa Gregory’s novels that I would like to read also.

4 Comments

Filed under 16th Century, Phillippa Gregory, Tudor

>Mailbox Monday!!!

>Please don't steal my images!Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. And I am adding what I purchased, swapped, etc… I am not purchasing anything at the moment, since my life is in limbo and packed in boxes.. but I did get some interesting books for review for my wonderful summer reading enjoyment. A wonderful selection books to post for my birthday:

AHHH yes. I love a book that creates discussion. This will be one of them I am sure, since there are so many conflicting opinions regarding “historian” turned author Philippa Gregory. I like her because she writes about the eras that I happen to like. Yes, she distorts facts but that is why she writes fiction. I am over the nit-picking and hen pecking and I want to be entertained. Can author Philippa Gregory accomplish that and make it two in a row for me with THE RED QUEEN? I did not like THE OTHER QUEEN, but I did like THE WHITE QUEEN.. Let’s make The Cousin’s War an interesting series for Gregory. Conjuring up the winds of hope as I speak..The wonderful UK publisher at Simon & Schuster also send along the paperback from The White Queen, I wonder if I’ll have a chance to re-read it just for fun? I do know that we can say GIVEAWAY for my Loyal Followers during the blog tour, so be sure to stay tuned for that in a few more weeks…

THE RED QUEEN (August 19, 2010):

Daughter of one of the most famously incompetent English commanders in France, heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her House is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her. Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin Henry VI of England fails to recognize her as a kindred spirit, and even more when he sinks into madness; but worst of all for Margaret is when she discovers that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales.

Married to a man twice her age, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy himself. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty she names him Henry, like the King, sends him into exile, and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth Woodville’s daughter. She feigns loyalty to the usurper King Richard III, marries one of his faithful supporters and then masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time- all the while knowing that her son is growing to manhood, coached by his uncle, Jasper Tudor, recruiting his army, his eyes on the greatest prize.
In a novel of conspiracy, passion and cold-hearted ambition, Number 1 bestselling author Philippa Gregory has brought to life the story of a proud and determined woman who believes that she alone is destined, by her piety and lineage, to shape the course of history“.

I also received for review:

The King’s Mistress by Emma Campion, which releases in the US on July 6. Already released in 2009 in the UK, this is one that I will get to at some time in the not so near future.

From childhood Alice Salisbury has learnt obedience in all things and at fourteen, dutifully marries the man her father has chosen for her – at the cost of losing the love of her mother forever and the family she holds dear. But merchant Janyn Perrers is a good and loving husband and Alice soon learns to enjoy her marriage. Until a messenger brings news of his disappearance and she discovers that her husband had many secrets, secrets he didn’t want her to know – but which have now put a price on her own head and that of her beloved daughter. Brought under the protection of King Edward III and Queen Philippa, she must dutifully embrace her fate once more – as a virtual prisoner at Court. And when the king singles her out for more than just royal patronage, she knows she has little choice but to accept his advances. But obeying the king brings with it many burdens as well as pleasures, as she forfeits her good name to keep her daughter free from hurt. Still a young woman and guided by her intellect and good business sense, she learns to use her gifts as wisely as she can. But as one of the king’s favourites, she brings jealousy and hatred in her wake and some will stop at nothing to see her fall from grace.

And I could not resist the new one by Karen Essex, though I am not a Vampire girl, but I am really in the mood for gothic fun sans blood, which I hope this is, and I think I would like to start this one next:

Dracula in Love
What if everything you knew about Dracula . . . was wrong?
From the shadowy banks of the River Thames to the wild and windswept coast of Yorkshire, the quintessential Victorian virgin Mina Murray vividly recounts in the pages of her private diary the intimate details of what transpired between her and Count Dracula – the joys and terrors of a passionate affair and her rebellion against a force of evil that has pursued her through time.
Mina’s version of this timeless gothic vampire tale is a visceral journey into the dimly lit bedrooms, mist-filled cemeteries, and locked asylum chambers where she led a secret life, far from the chaste and polite lifestyle the defenders of her purity, and even her fiancé, Jonathan Harker, expected of her.
Bram Stoker’s classic novel was only one side of the story. Now, for the first time, Dracula’s eternal muse reveals all. What she has to say is more sensual, more devious, and more enthralling than ever imagined. The result is a scintillating gothic novel that reinvents the tragic heroine Mina as a modern woman tortured by desire.

The Jewel of St. Petersburg
by Kate Furnivall

Russia, 1910. Young Valentina Ivanova charms St Petersburg’s aristocracy with her classic Russian beauty and her talent as a pianist. She scandalises society when she begins a romance with Jens Friis, a Danish engineer. He brings to her life a passion and an intimacy she has never known. Unbending in their opposition, her parents push her into a loveless engagement with a Russian count. Valentina struggles for independence and to protect her young sister from the tumult sweeping the city, as Russia is bound for rebellion. The Tsar, the Duma and the Bolsheviks are at each other’s throats. Valentina is forced to make a choice that changes her life for ever …

I also received a book from Paperbackswap:
Cheerfulness Breaks In
(A book in the Barsetshire series, 1940)
A novel by Angela Thirkell
Originally published in 1940, a saga set in rural England as the clouds of war gather over Europe, in which the villagers rally round to offer their support when it is learned that a London school is to be evacuated there, and the local characters are seen in their true colours.
 
And with a fun win, I received from Wonders and Marvels:

Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America’s Most Wanted Gangster by Jonathan Eig
 
Based on newly released government documents and wiretaps, Get Capone tells the story how the nation’s most-wanted criminal was really caught. This book gets beyond the myth to portray the real Capone, using the gangster’s own jailhouse letters and interviews with relatives. Ken Burns calls Eig’s book “fresh and utterly dazzling.” David Maraniss labels it “narrative history at its finest.” Publishers weekly calls it a “page-turning narrative” and gives it a starred review.

What caught your eye this week? Did you get a book that you are really looking forward to digging into? I’ve gotten several this week that I do want to dig into, unfortunately real life must take precedence. But I shall be eagerly anticipating these!!

12 Comments

Filed under 2010 Releases, Emma Campion, Mailbox Monday, Phillippa Gregory

>Mailbox Monday

>Please don't steal my images!Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. And I am adding what I purchased, swapped, etc.

From Half Price Books:
 My Just Desire: The Life of Bess Raleigh, Wife to Sir Walter by Anna Beer (2003)
“Young, beautiful, and connected by blood to the most powerful families in England, Bess Throckmorton had as much influence over Queen Elizabeth I as any woman in the realm—but she risked everything to marry the most charismatic man of the day. The secret marriage between Bess and the Queen’s beloved Sir Walter Ralegh cost both of them their fortunes, their freedom, and very nearly their lives. Yet it was Bess, resilient, passionate, and politically shrewd, who would live to restore their name and reclaim her political influence. In this dazzling biography, Bess Ralegh finally emerges from her husband’s shadow to stand as a complex, commanding figure in her own right.

Writing with grace and drama, Anna Beer brings Bess to life as a woman, a wife and mother, an intimate friend of poets and courtiers, and a skilled political infighter in Europe’s most powerful and most dangerous court. The only daughter of an ambitious aristocratic family, Bess was thrust at a tender age into the very epicenter of royal power when her parents secured her the position of Elizabeth’s Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber. Bess proved to be a natural player on this stage of extravagant myth making and covert sexual politics, until she fell in love with the Queen’s Captain of the Guard, the handsome, virile, meteorically rising Ralegh. But their secret marriage, swiftly followed by the birth of their son, would have grave consequences for both of them.

Brooking the Queen’s wrath and her husband’s refusal to acknowledge their marriage, Bess brilliantly stage-managed her social and political rehabilitation and emerged from prison as the leader of a brilliant, fast-living aristocratic set. She survived personal tragedy, the ruinous global voyages launched by her husband, and the vicious plots of high-placed enemies. Though Raleigh in the end fell afoul of court intrigue, Bess lived on into the reign of James I as a woman of hard-won wisdom and formidable power.
With compelling historical insight, Anna Beer recreates here the vibrant pageant of Elizabethan England—the brilliant wit and vicious betrayals, the new discoveries and old rivalries, the violence and fierce sexuality of life at court. Peopled by poets and princes, spanning the reigns of two monarchs, moving between the palaces of London and the manor house outside the capital, My Just Desire is the portrait of a remarkable woman who lived at the center of an extraordinary time.”
 

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2007)
Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history, Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good. Margaret is mesmerized by the author’s tale of Gothic strangeness — featuring the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess,a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Together, Margaret and Vida confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.


Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (1997)
In Alias Grace, bestselling author Margaret Atwood has written her most captivating, disturbing, and ultimately satisfying work since The Handmaid’s Tale. She takes us back in time and into the life of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the nineteenth century.



Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.


Dr. Simon Jordan, an up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness, is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories? Is Grace a female fiend? A bloodthirsty femme fatale? Or is she the victim of circumstances?”

Lucrezia Borgia by John Faunce (2003)
“The woman whose legendary beauty—and wickedness—inspired Donazetti’s opera, Victor Hugo’s play, and countless films and paintings at last speaks for herself.

Lucrezia Borgia. The name has long been synonymous with murder, incest, and debauchery. Illegitimate daughter of Roderigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, her life was marked by one forced divorce, one murdered husband, and rumors of murders she committed herself—as well as whispered affairs with both her brother Cesare and her father. But was she all that history has accused her of being, or a woman used by powerful men to gain still more power? Here, Lucrezia tells her own story, full of crime and passion.
At the turn of the 16th century, the Vatican was as decadent and violent as any royal court, and Lucrezia was raised a princess. Twice married off for political gain by Alexander and Cesare, first to an older noble she grew to love, then to the dazzlingly handsome nephew of a king who she fell in love with almost instantly, Lucrezia would not have lasting happiness with either. This is the story of a woman trapped between her own desires and the iron hand of her ultra-powerful family. Her intelligence and inner steel, as conveyed by author John Faunce, mark her as one of history’s great survivors.”
 

 Wideacre by Philippa Gregory (1986/2003) This one has lots of different opinions on Amazon from the ‘worst book ever read’ to ‘Amazing’. We shall see. Gotta love those Amazon reviewers, eh?

“Beatrice Lacey, as strong-minded as she is beautiful, refuses to conform to the social customs of her time. Destined to lose her family name and beloved Wideacre estate once she is wed, Beatrice will use any means necessary to protect her ancestral heritage. Seduction, betrayal, even murder — Beatrice’s passion is without apology or conscience. “She is a Lacey of Wideacre,” her father warns, “and whatever she does, however she behaves, will always be fitting.” Yet even as Beatrice’s scheming seems about to yield her dream, she is haunted by the one living person who knows the extent of her plans…and her capacity for evil.
Sumptuously set in Georgian England, Wideacre is intensely gripping, rich in texture, and full of color and authenticity. It is a saga as irresistible in its singular magic as its heroine.”

The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain
The Silver Chalice recounts the story of Basil, a young silversmith, who is commissioned by the apostle Luke to fashion a holder for the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper. The Silver Chalice was the best-selling fiction title of 1953 in the United States and was made into a film starring Paul Newman.

BrokenTepee shared with me also the latest MJ Rose novel in her Reincarnation series (thank you!!):

The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose
Haunted by a twenty-year-old murder of a beautiful young painter, Lucian Glass keeps his demons at bay through his fascinating work as a special agent with the FBI’s Art Crime Team. Currently investigating a crazed art collector who has begun destroying prized masterworks, Glass is thrust into a bizarre hostage negotiation that takes him undercover at the Phoenix Foundation — dedicated to the science of past-life study — where, in order to maintain his cover, he agrees to submit to the treatment of a hypnotist.



Under hypnosis, Glass travels from ancient Greece to nineteenth-century Persia, while the case takes him from New York to Paris and the movie capital of the world. These journeys will change his very understanding of reality, lead him to question his own sanity and land him at the center of perhaps the most audacious art heist in history — the theft of a 1,500-year-old sculpture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


International bestselling author M. J. Rose’s The Hypnotist is her most mesmerizing novel yet. An adventure, a love story, a clash of cultures, a spiritual quest, it is above all a thrilling capstone to her unique Reincarnationist novels, The Reincarnationist and The Memorist.

And for review:

Adam & Eve by Sena Jeter Naslund
What Happened To Eden?

The New York Times bestselling author of Ahab’s Wife, Four Spirits, and Abundance returns with a daring and provocative novel that envisions a world where science and faith contend for the allegiance of a new Adam & Eve.
 

Betsy Ross and the Making of America by Marla R. Miller
A richly woven biography of the beloved patriot Betsy Ross, and an enthralling portrait of everyday life in Revolutionary War-era Philadelphia

Betsy Ross and the Making of America is the first comprehensively researched and elegantly written biography of one of America’s most captivating figures of the Revolutionary War. Drawing on new sources and bringing a fresh, keen eye to the fabled creation of “the first flag,” Marla R. Miller thoroughly reconstructs the life behind the legend. This authoritative work provides a close look at the famous seamstress while shedding new light on the lives of the artisan families who peopled the young nation and crafted its tools, ships, and homes.


Betsy Ross occupies a sacred place in the American consciousness, and Miller’s winning narrative finally does her justice. This history of the ordinary craftspeople of the Revolutionary War and their most famous representative will be the definitive volume for years to come.

20 Comments

Filed under Borgia, Elizabeth I, Georgian Era, Lucrezia Borgia, Mailbox Monday, Margaret Atwood, Phillippa Gregory, Walter Raleigh

>Caught My Eye ..Some Fabulous Historical August Releases

>It is going to be a fabulous summer with all of the historical books that are coming out. In August alone, these are the picks that have caught my eye. Follow the Links to learn more about the books from Amazon!

Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance (First in trilogy set during reign of the Borgias) by Sara Poole

In the simmering hot summer of 1492, a monstrous evil is stirring within the Eternal City of Rome. The brutal murder of an alchemist sets off a desperate race to uncover the plot that threatens to extinguish the light of the Renaissance and plunge Europe back into medieval darkness.



Determined to avenge the killing of her father, Francesca Giordano defies all convention to claim for herself the position of poisoner serving Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, head of the most notorious and dangerous family in Italy. She becomes the confidante of Lucrezia Borgia and the lover of Cesare Borgia. At the same time, she is drawn to the young renegade monk who yearns to save her life and her soul.
Navigating a web of treachery and deceit, Francesca pursues her father’s killer from the depths of Rome’s Jewish ghetto to the heights of the Vatican itself. In so doing, she sets the stage for the ultimate confrontation with ancient forces that will seek to use her darkest desires to achieve their own catastrophic ends.

The Red Queen: A Novel by Philippa Gregory

Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her house is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her. Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin Henry VI fails to recognize her as a kindred spirit, and she is even more dismayed when he sinks into madness. Her mother mocks her plans, revealing that Margaret will always be burdened with the reputation of her father, one of the most famously incompetent English commanders in France. But worst of all for Margaret is when she discovers that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales.

Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York’s daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret charts her own way through another loveless marriage, treacherous alliances, and secret plots. She feigns loyalty to the usurper Richard III and even carries his wife’s train at her coronation.
Widowed a second time, Margaret marries the ruthless, deceitful Thomas, Lord Stanley, and her fate stands on the knife edge of his will. Gambling her life that he will support her, she then masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time—all the while knowing that her son has grown to manhood, recruited an army, and now waits for his opportunity to win the greatest prize.
In a novel of conspiracy, passion, and coldhearted ambition, number one bestselling author Philippa Gregory has brought to life the story of a proud and determined woman who believes that she alone is destined, by her piety and lineage, to shape the course of history.
The Secret Eleanor (novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine) by Cecelia Holland
Eleanor of Aquitaine seized hold of life in the 12th century in a way any modern woman would envy!

1151: As Duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor grew up knowing what it was to be regarded for herself and not for her husband’s title. Now, as wife to Louis VII and Queen of France, she has found herself unsatisfied with reflected glory-and feeling constantly under threat, even though she outranks every woman in Paris.


Then, standing beside her much older husband in the course of a court ceremony, Eleanor locks eyes with a man-hardly more than a boy, really- across the throne room, and knows that her world has changed irrevocably…


He is Henry D’Anjou, eldest son of the Duke of Anjou, and he is in line, somewhat tenuously, for the British throne. She meets him in secret. She has a gift for secrecy, for she is watched like a prisoner by spies even among her own women. She is determined that Louis must set her free. Employing deception and disguise, seduction and manipulation, Eleanor is determined to find her way to power-and make her mark on history.

His Last Letter: Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester (novel of the enduring relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester) by Jeane Westin
One of the greatest loves of all time-between Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley-comes to life in this vivid novel.

They were playmates as children, impetuous lovers as adults-and for thirty years were the center of each others’ lives. Astute to the dangers of choosing any one man, the Virgin Queen could never give her “Sweet Robin” what he wanted most-marriage- yet she insisted he stay close by her side. Possessive and jealous, their love survived quarrels, his two disastrous marriages to other women, her constant flirtations, and political machinations with foreign princes.


His Last Letter tells the story of this great love… and especially of the last three years Elizabeth and Dudley spent together, the most dangerous of her rule, when their passion was tempered by a bittersweet recognition of all that they shared-and all that would remain unfulfilled.

The Pindar Diamond: A Novel by Katie Hickman (Paperback – Aug 17, 2010)tale of lust, greed, and danger set in seventeenth-century Venice, The Pindar Diamond is a gripping and superbly told historical novel.
In a small town on the Italian coast, a mysterious woman washes ashore. She is crippled, mute, and clutches a bundle to her chest?a baby the townspeople insist is a real-life mermaid. It can only bring bad luck; they pay a troupe of acrobats to carry mother and child away.

In the bustling trade center of Venice, merchant Paul Pindar is the subject of his colleagues’ concern. Since his return from Constantinople, they have found him changed; raging over the loss of his beloved, Celia, he has gambled away his fortune at the gaming tables. But when a priceless blue diamond surfaces in the city, Pindar recognizes the opportunity to regain everything he has lost?including, perhaps, the woman he loves.


A celebrated writer of history and travel books, Katie Hickman has always been a master of evoking time and place. With The Pindar Diamond, her follow-up to The Aviary Gate, she brings early-seventeenth-century Italy vividly to life, and also demonstrates her maturity as a novelist. A tale of love and avarice, with a touch of the mystical, The Pindar Diamond is rich with historical detail, and unfolds with urgency and grace. It is accomplished, wholly satisfying historical fiction.

Non-fiction:
A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France by Katie Whitaker
A royal marriage, based on romantic passion and ferocious, unbridgeable religious differences, ends in tragedy—a history worthy of Shakespeare. It was, from the start, a dangerous experiment. Charles I of England was a Protestant, the fifteen-year-old French princess a Catholic. The marriage was arranged for political purposes, and it seemed a mismatch of personalities. But against the odds, the reserved king and his naively vivacious bride fell passionately in love, and for ten years England enjoyed an era of peace and prosperity.

When Charles became involved in war with Puritan Scotland, popular hatred of Henrietta’s Catholicism roused Parliament to fury. As the opposition party embraced new values of liberty and republicanism—the blueprint for the American War of Independence and the French Revolution—Charles’s fears for his wife’s safety drove him into a civil war that would cost him his crown and his head.
Rejecting centuries of hostile historical tradition, prize-winning biographer Katie Whitaker uses a host of original sources—including many unpublished manuscripts and letters—to create an intimate portrait of a remarkable marriage.
The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington Palace by Lucy Worsley (Hardcover – Aug 17, 2010)
Kensington Palace is now most famous as the former home of Diana, Princess of Wales, but the palace’s glory days came between 1714 and 1760, during the reigns of George I and II . In the eighteenth century, this palace was a world of skulduggery, intrigue, politicking, etiquette, wigs, and beauty spots, where fans whistled open like switchblades and unusual people were kept as curiosities. Lucy Worsley’s The Courtiers charts the trajectory of the fantastically quarrelsome Hanovers and the last great gasp of British court life. Structured around the paintings of courtiers and servants that line the walls of the King’s Staircase of Kensington Palace paintings you can see at the palace today?The Courtiers goes behind closed doors to meet a pushy young painter, a maid of honor with a secret marriage, a vice chamberlain with many vices, a bedchamber woman with a violent husband, two aging royal mistresses, and many more. The result is an indelible portrait of court life leading up to the famous reign of George III , and a feast for both Anglophiles and lovers of history and royalty.

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Filed under 16th Century, 2010 Releases, Caught My Eye, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Jeane Westin, Phillippa Gregory, Sara Poole

>Mailbox Monday Time!

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Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. And I am adding what I purchased, swapped, etc.

From Paperbackswap:
My Dream of You My Dream of You by Nuala O’Faolain

This compelling novel by Nuala O’Faolain intertwines the stories of two women, an Irish travel writer living in present-day London, and a British landowner’s wife during the 19th century potato famine, who was convicted of committing adultery with an Irish groom.

A lovely heartbreaker of a novel that asks the hard questions…O’Faolain writes beautifully about longing and regret.” (USA Today)

“One of the finest achievements of the book is its unflinching, empathetic depiction of just how it feels…to experience the chill clutch of the thought that the rest of one’s life might be empty of love, sex, intimate human contact…a fully rendered portrait.” (The New York Times Book Review)

Fallen Skies
Fallen Skies by Philippa Gregory

“Now back in print from New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory, Fallen Skies takes readers to post-World War I England in a suspenseful story about the marriage of a wealthy war hero and an aspiring singer he barely knows.

Lily Valance is determined to forget the horrors of the war by throwing herself into the decadent pleasures of the 1920s and pursuing her career as a music hall singer. When she meets Captain Stephen Winters, a decorated veteran, she’s immediately drawn to his wealth and status. And Stephen, burdened by his guilt over surviving the Flanders battlefields where so many soldiers perished, sees the possibility of forgetting his anguish in Lily, but his family does not approve.

Lily marries Stephen, only to discover that his family’s facade of respectability conceals a terrifying combination of repression, jealousy and violence. When Stephen’s terrors merge dangerously close with reality, the truth of what took place in the mud and darkness brings him and all who love him to a terrible reckoning.”

Above is a picture of my Georgette Heyer’s that I purchased via Ebay. The pink one is “Venetia” and that one is from 1958. Pretty old! The lot was a total of 28 books.
My Heyer collection now includes:
A Blunt Instrument
A Civil Contract
An Infamous Army
Arabella
Behold, Here’s Poison
The Toll-Gate
The Black Moth
These Old Shades
Devil’s Cub
The Corinthian
The Grand Sophy
Venetia
The Masqueraders
The Convenient Marriage
The Nonesuch
Powder & Patch
Envious Casca
Footsteps in The Dark
No Wind of Blame
Why Shoot A Butler
They Found Him Dead
Detection Unlimited
Duplicate Death
The Unfinished Clue
Charity Girl
Death in the Stocks
Faro’s Daughter
Fridays Child
The Spanish Bride
The Conqueror
Beauvallet
Sylvester
Royal Escape
Regency Buck
My Lord John

Shown above were purchased by me at my local bookstore & the 3 on the right are for review:

Firedrake’s Eye by Patricia Finney (1998)

Brilliantly written in language eerily reminiscent of sixteenth-century England and filled with the dazzling color and drama of Tudor England, Firedrake’s Eye concerns a meticulously constructed plot to kill Queen Elizabeth I. Tom O’Bedlam, the mad son of prominent Catholic family, stumbles upon evidence that his hated brother has returned to England to spearhead a scheme to assassinate the Queen. Patricia Finney transports the reader back in time to the dirty, dangerous underbelly of 1583 London. Combining accurate and detailed historical research with story-telling of an unusually high caliber, Firedrake’s Eye brilliantly evokes that danger and treachery of Tudor politics.”

Unicorn’s Blood by Patricia Finney (1999)
Patricia Finney’s outstanding literary thriller plunges into the vivid and deadly world of the 16th century: from the torture chambers of the Tower to the elegant artifice of court life; from the bawdy-houses of Southwark to the Queen’s own bed. Why are the Jesuits, the Queen’s Puritan councillors and even the Queen herself searching for the mysterious Book of the Unicorn? What ancient scandal threatens Elizabeth Tudor as she fights to avoid executing her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots? And what of the man waking up in the dungeon with no memory of who he is? David Becket and Simon Ames, the two mismatched heroes of FIREDRAKE’S EYE find themselves unwillingly in the thick of the struggle to unravel the plot.”

Mapping the Edge by Sarah Dunant

Anna, a self-sufficient and reliable single mother, packs her bags one day for a short vacation to Italy. She leaves her beloved daughter at home in London with good friends. When Anna doesn’t return, everyone begins to make excuses, until the likelihood that she might not come back at all becomes chillingly clear. In this dazzling work of suspense, Sarah Dunant interweaves parallel narratives that are stretched taut with tension even as they raise difficult questions about love, trust, and accountability. We are challenged, unnerved, and ultimately exhilarated as Dunant redefines the boundaries of the psychological thriller.”

From the author of A Separate Country, released 2009, this is his previous work:

The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks

In 1894 Carrie McGavock is an old woman who has only her former slave to keep her company…and the almost 1,500 soldiers buried in her backyard. Years before, rather than let someone plow over the field where these young men had been buried, Carrie dug them up and reburied them in her own personal cemetery. Now, as she walks the rows of the dead, an old soldier appears. It is the man she met on the day of the battle that changed everything. The man who came to her house as a wounded soldier and left with her heart. He asks if the cemetery has room for one more.

In an extraordinary debut novel, based on a remarkable true story, Robert Hicks draws an unforgettable, panoramic portrait of a woman who, through love and loss, found a cause. Known throughout the country as “the Widow of the South,” Carrie McGavock gave her heart first to a stranger, then to a tract of hallowed ground – and became a symbol of a nation’s soul.”

From Sourcebooks to review:

The Stolen Crown: The Secret Marriage that Forever Changed the Fate of England by Susan Higginbotham
On May Day, 1464, six-year-old Katherine Woodville, daughter of a duchess who has married a knight of modest means, awakes to find her gorgeous older sister, Elizabeth, in the midst of a secret marriage to King Edward IV. It changes everything—for Kate and for England.
Then King Edward dies unexpectedly. Richard III, Duke of Gloucester, is named protector of Edward and Elizabeth’s two young princes, but Richard’s own ambitions for the crown interfere with his duties…
Lancastrians against Yorkists: greed, power, murder, and war. As the story unfolds through the unique perspective of Kate Woodville, it soon becomes apparent that not everyone is wholly evil—or wholly good.”

Young Bess (Book one in the Good Queen Bess trilogy) by Margaret Irwin, this is a reissue by Sourcebooks. Originally published 1944.

This first of Irwin’s trilogy about Elizabeth traces her early life from the execution of her mother, Anne Boleyn, to Bess’s banishment from her Henry VIII’s court, to the intrigues of Tom Seymour and the death of her brother, Edward VI.”

From Simon & Schuster to Review:
Eve of the Isle by Carol Rivers
January 1928, the Isle of Dogs. Following the mysterious disappearance of her sailor husband (missing, presumed drowned), young widow Eve Kumar struggles to provide for herself and her twin sons. But her flower-selling business is destroyed overnight when the Thames floods its banks, wrecking Eve’s ramshackle riverside cottage and forcing her to take refuge with the lecherous Harold Slygo and his drunken wife. As Eve’s home life turns from bad to worse, she is befriended by a young constable, Charlie Merritt, who shares Eve’s growing suspicions that her husband’s death was no accident. But Eve and Charlie’s investigations are attracting unwelcome attention – and when Eve herself disappears, it becomes clear there are those who would go to any lengths to ensure the truth remains buried. Will Charlie be able to save the woman he has grown to love?”

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Filed under Mailbox Monday, Meme, Phillippa Gregory

>Mailbox Monday~ Back with a Bang

>Mailbox Monday Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. And I am adding what I purchased, swapped, etc.

Okay, so last week I had gotten one book, which was a new Heyer, and now well I’ve gotten a few more.

I bought the following used books:
(All by Georgette Heyer)

The Black Moth
The Masqueraders
Royal Escape
Regency Buck
Friday’s Child
Faro’s Daughter (and a couple I already had, but it was sold in a lot)

I am definitely NOT in the mood to upload all the pertinent information on each of the above. I guess I am a bit lazy.. but you can see Georgette Heyer’s Amazon page here.

But I am definitely excited to read some more Heyer! WOOHOO I love her Regency novels.
I am looking forward to Faro’s Daughter (5 stars on Amazon) and Friday’s Child which is supposed to be a “bright comedy”:
When the incomparable Miss Milbourne spurns the impetuous Lord Sherington’s marriage proposal (she laughs at him-laughs!) he vows to marry the next female he encounters, who happens to be the young, penniless Miss Hero Wantage, who has adored him all her life. Whisking her off to London, Sherry discovers there is no end to the scrapes his young, green bride can get into, and she discovers the excitement and glamorous social scene of the ton. Not until a deep misunderstanding erupts and Sherry almost loses his bride, does he plumb the depths of his own heart, and surprises himself with the love he finds there.”

And another one I am really excited about is one that I didn’t think I was going to be able to get very easily.
Alice This one is going to be an indulgence for when I really need it and I hope I enjoy it:

Alice Hartley’s Happiness by Philippa Gregory (August 20, 2009)“Social mores come under bestselling author Philippa Gregory’s acute scrutiny in this reissue of a long-unavailable novel of betrayal, revenge and liberation! Alice Hartley can no longer arouse the interest of her pompous husband, the adulterous professor. Despite her efforts, she still leaves him cold. Just as she is compelled to face this chilling truth, she meets Michael, a young student with an excessive libido. In Michael, Alice discovers an endless supply of all she has sought: revenge, sex and a large house suitable for conversion. Soon the house is thigh-deep with women joyfully casting off the shacles of their oppression. Sadly, some narrow-minded neigbours and numerous forces of the law seem completely impervious to all those healing vibrations!”

Her Mother’s Daughter: A Novel of Queen Mary Tudor by Julianne Lee (December 1, 2009)

“Her name was Mary Tudor. First of the Tudor queens, she has gone down in history as Bloody Mary. But does she deserve her vicious reputation? She was the daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, and half-sister to Edward VI and Elizabeth I. Mary Tudor’s life began as the sweetly innocent, pampered princess of Wales-until the age of eleven when the father she adored cast aside the mother she worshipped and declared Mary a bastard. Only after years of exile did Mary finally rise to the throne alongside the man who, aside from her father, was her greatest love-and her greatest betrayer. Told by Mary herself and the people around her, this grand-scale novel takes us back to the glittering court of sixteenth-century England, and tells the tragic story of a fascinating, largely misunderstood woman who withstood the treachery and passion around her only to become one of England’s most vilified queens.”

From the author to review:
The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy (February 26, 2008)

The richly imagined tale of Deborah, the courageous Biblical warrior who saved her people from certain destruction In ancient Israel, war is looming. Deborah, a highly respected leader, has coerced the warrior Barak into launching a strike against the neighboring Canaanites. Against all odds he succeeds, returning triumphantly with Asherah and Nogah, daughters of the Canaanite King, as his prisoners. But military victory is only the beginning of the turmoil, as a complex love triangle develops between Barak and the two princesses. Deborah, recently cast off by her husband, develops a surprising affinity for Barak. Yet she struggles to rebuild her existence on her own terms, while also groping her way toward the greatest triumph of her life. Filled with brilliantly vivid historical detail, The Triumph of Deborah is the absorbing and riveting tale of one of the most beloved figures in the Old Testament, and a tribute to feminine strength and independence.”

From the publisher via Shelf Awareness request to review:
The Information Officer by Mark Mills (February 2, 2010)

“Summer 1942: Malta, a small windswept island in the Mediterranean, has become the most bombed patch of earth on the planet, worse even than London during the Blitz. The Maltese, a fiercely independent people, withstand the relentless Axis air raids.Max Chadwick is the British officer charged with manipulating the news on Malta to bolster the population’s fragile esprit de corps. This is all, besides a few broken-down fighter planes, that stands in the face of Nazi occupation and perhaps even victory—for Malta is the stepping-stone the Germans need between Europe and North Africa.When Max learns of the brutal murder of a young island woman—along with evidence that the crime was committed by a British officer—he knows that the Maltese loyalty to the war effort could be instantly shattered. As the clock ticks down toward all-out invasion, Max must investigate the murder—beyond the gaze of his superiors, friends, and even the woman he loves.”

And from the Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway from Jo-Jo Loves to Read! I won the following: Zumba® By Beto Perez , Maggie Greenwood-RobinsonTIRED OF LOGGING HOURS AT THE GYM AND NOT GETTING RESULTS? WANT TO EAT DELICIOUS FOODS AND STILL LOSE WEIGHT? SHAKE THINGS UP AND SLIM DOWN WITH THE WEIGHT LOSS PHENOMENON THAT’S TAKING THE COUNTRY BY STORM…ZUMBA! … more” (I don’t know about this one, I am allergic to healthy food and exercise so we’ll see.

These stories all look fantabulous!! I am very interested in these books because I have two Hispanic families on my block who are the sweetest people, and we have some hard working dependable Hispanic employees. This is a culture I would love to learn more about.

Evenings at the Argentine Club By Julia AmanteVictor and Jaqueline Torres imagined moving to the U.S. would bring happiness and prosperity-instead they found a world of frustration. While Victor put long hours into his restaurant business, Jaqui devoted her life to her daughters, until they grew up and moved on. Even their eldest, Victoria, is torn trying to reconcile being the perfect Argentine daughter and an independent American woman. Antonio and Lucia Orteli face the same realities, especially when their only son Eric leaves their close-knit Argentine community in pursuit of his own dreams..”


Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz By Belinda AcostaAll Ana Ruiz wanted was to have a traditional quinceañera for her daughter, Carmen. She wanted a nice way to mark this milestone year in her daughter’s life. But Carmen was not interested in celebrating. Hurt and bitter over her father Esteban’s departure, she blamed Ana for destroying their happy family, as did everyone else. A good man is hard to find, especially at your age Ana was told. Why not forgive his one indiscretion? Despite everything, Ana didn’t want to tarnish Carmen’s childlike devotion to her beloved father. … more

Tell Me Something True By Leila CoboGabriella always loved the picture of her mother kneeling in front of a bed of roses, smiling, beautiful and impossibly happy. But then she learns that her late mother hated gardening; that she had never wanted the house in the Hollywood hills, the successful movie producer husband, and possibly, her only daughter. When Gabriella discovers a journal–a book that begins as a new mother’s letters to her baby girl, but becomes a secret diary–the final entry leaves one question unanswered: the night her mother died, was she returning to Colombia to end an affair, or was she abandoning her family for good?”

Amigoland By Oscar CasaresIn a small town on the Mexican border live two brothers, Don Fidencio and Don Celestino. Stubborn and independent, they now must face the facts: they are old, and they have let a family argument stand between them for too long. Don Celestino’s good-natured housekeeper encourages him to make amends–while he still can. They secretly liberate Don Fidencio from his nursing home and travel into Mexico to solve the mystery at the heart of their dispute: the family legend of their grandfather’s kidnapping. As the unlikely trio travels, the brothers learn it’s never too late for a new beginning.With winsome prose and heartfelt humor, Oscar Casares’s debut novel of family lost and found radiates with generosity and grace and confirms the arrival of a uniquely talented new writer.”

For my Victoria Holt aka Jean Plaidy collection, I received from Paperbackswap:
The Devil on Horseback:

From the moment that beautiful eighteen-year-old Minella Maddox saw Charles-Augueste, the haughty, arrogant Comte Fontaine Delibes, his satanic looks thrilled her with a sense of danger and excitement. The Comte, too, liked what he saw. He decided that he would marry Minella, and nothing would be allowed to stand in his way . . . not even his wife.”

Also from Paperbackswap I received:

Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende, which is a sequel to her Daughter of Fortune.

In nineteenth-century Chile, Aurora del Valle suffers a brutal trauma that erases all recollections of the first five years of her life. Raised by her regal and ambitious grandmother Paulina del Valle, Aurora grows up in a privileged environment, but is tormented by horrible nightmares. When she is forced to recognize her betrayal at the hands of the man she loves, and to cope with the resulting solitude, she explores the mystery of her past.”

And, last but not least, I received from Paperbackswap, which is crazy because there are 58 members wishing and I had no idea I was so close to the beginning!

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnodjmet, have been raised in a powerful family that has provided wives to the rulers of Egypt for centuries. Ambitious, charismatic, and beautiful, Nefertiti is destined to marry Amunhotep, an unstable young pharaoh. It is hoped by all that her strong personality will temper the young Amunhotep’s heretical desire to forsake Egypt’s ancient gods, overthrow the priests of Amun, and introduce a new sun god for all to worship.

From the moment of her arrival in Thebes, Nefertiti is beloved by the people. Her charisma is matched only by her husband’s perceived generosity: Amunhotep showers his subjects with lofty promises. The love of the commoners will not be enough, however, if the royal couple is not able to conceive an heir, and as Nefertiti turns her attention to producing a son, she fails to see that the powerful priests, along with the military, are plotting against her husband’s rule. The only person wise enough to recognize the shift in political winds—and brave enough to tell the queen—is her younger sister, Mutnodjmet.

Observant and contemplative, Mutnodjmet has never shared her sister’s desire for power. She yearns for a quiet existence away from family duty and the intrigues of court. Her greatest hope is to share her life with the general who has won her heart. But as Nefertiti learns of the precariousness of her reign, she declares that her sister must remain at court and marry for political gain, not love. To achieve her independence, Mutnodjmet must defy her sister, the most powerful woman in Egypt—while also remaining loyal to the needs of her family. Love, betrayal, political unrest, plague, and religious conflict—Nefertiti brings ancient Egypt to life in vivid detail. Fast-paced and historically accurate, it is the dramatic story of two unforgettable women living through a remarkable period in history.”

I have also received from my Amazon order that I spoke of in the previous Sunday Salon, which are going under the tree:

March by Geraldine Brooks and Eden’s Outcast by John Matteson
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Filed under Georgette Heyer, Mailbox Monday, Phillippa Gregory

>Book Review & Giveaway: "The White Queen" by Phillippa Gregory

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The White Queen: The Cousins War” by Phillippa Gregory
Read An Excerpt
Cover is of my ARC (a big thank you to Ally at Simon & Schuster!) I don’t really care for the current release’s cover.
The second and third books in the anticipated series are tentatively titled The Red Queen (Margaret Beaufort) and The White Princess (Elizabeth of York).

Published August 18th 2009 by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
Hardcover, 416 pages
The Burton Review Rating: 4 stars
Book Description:

THE COUSINS’ WAR Book One:
Philippa Gregory, “the queen of royal fiction,” presents the first of a new series set amid the deadly feuds of England known as the Wars of the Roses.
Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenet’s. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.
The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.”

Phillippa Gregory does it again! All the possible controversial theories are utilised here in this work of The Wars of The Roses and shall be used for fodder by history enthusiasts. Phillippa Gregory is one of those authors that you either love or hate. Those that are very particular about sticking to the known facts regarding Anne Boleyn dislike her for what she says happened in “The Other Boleyn Girl”. And then the movie came out and that took even more liberties (not Gregory’s fault) and there was a mini revolt on Facebook against Gregory which was fun to watch. I must say that “The Other Boleyn Girl” is exactly what got me hooked on historical fiction last year, probably about February of 2008. And there was no turning back. I googled Henry VIII and bought more books, from non-fiction to fiction all about the Tudor Era. I then read Gregory’s “The Constant Princess” and “The Queen’s Fool” and enjoyed those. I got a little burnt out on Gregory once I read last year’s “The Other Queen”; I did not like some of the insinuations that were made about Mary Queen of Scots in her attempt to spice up her dull writing. STILL.. I have a soft spot for her since she was the jumping off point to this passion I now hold for historical fiction. The fact that I know the family tree of Henry VIII and potential successors to the throne during his reign would probably fascinate and bore those that know me outside of this book blog world. It’s my little secret, and I owe it all to Phillippa Gregory.

Just as there are myths and rumors that have been debated about regarding Mary and Anne Boleyn of The Other Boleyn Girl, there have also been many different theories regarding Elizabeth Woodville. Most historians now seem to agree that without proof of things such as Elizabeth and her mother being witches, there is no reason to discuss it further because of the lack of logical proof. But with this novel, it is all opened back up and historians again will have a field day denying all the insinuations that Gregory makes with this new novel. Gregory even has a YouTube video discussing this Witchcraft topic. For this particular novel we are treated to historical fiction where the author has taken all of her available information and used her creative spin to twist the facts into something more pleasing then a text book. She does quite well creating the story and I believe there will now be a lot more googling on Elizabeth Woodville, and there is nothing wrong with that.

“The White Queen” is a novel taking place during a tumultuous period of time in the latter half of the 1400’s before Henry VIII’s father’s reign, called The Wars of The Roses, also known as The Cousin’s War for the specific period that takes place within Gregory’s book. England was not stable, there were two distinct factions of Lancastrians and Yorkists who battled for their right to the throne of England and each had legitimate candidacy with ancestors that had easily each justified their quests for the throne. For some, it was just a matter if the descendancy came via the female or male line as to where in the royal line of succession they landed. The Yorkists overthrew the reigning King Henry VI who was a bit ‘touched in the head’ and put Edward IV, a Plantagenet, on the throne, eventually murdering the pious king. It is a very intriguing history for England, as well as one of my favorites, and there are many what-if’s that can be asked for the possible outcomes of this war. There are many people involved, many important figures also who are turncoats and traitors (such as Warwick the advisor and ‘Kingmaker’, and the king’s brother George, the Duke of Clarence) and those who try to keep up with the prominent figures of this time could easily be confused. For this read, Gregory successfully dodges that confusing bullet. She sticks to her main characters and centers her story around Elizabeth Woodville, a Lancastrian widow who suddenly marries the Yorkist King. That was such an amazing feat in itself that Elizabeth and her mother were quickly branded as witches, since there could have been no other logical way that the King of England would have wedded in secret to an unimportant family from an opposing party. There are conflicting stories as to whether Elizabeth and Edward had known each other before the infamous meeting under the tree, but there is not a lot of hard evidence about Elizabeth Woodville in general. She is of a large family and was married and widowed before wedding Edward; she came into her royal marriage with two sons of her own, and she was older than her husband Edward IV. These Grey sons did not get a lot of time in the book, but were also quite important in their time, along with the Woodville clan themselves.

P. Gregory depicts Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV meeting when Elizabeth asks for the rights to her dead husband’s land, and soon after their marital events are taking place towards the beginning of the novel. Some intriguing dialogue comes after, prophetic phrases galore and then Queen Elizabeth is complete with three girls off of the King. I was a bit dismayed at the jump in time, as well as the lack of putting names to her growing family. It wasn’t till the younger Elizabeth was 4 years old before Gregory actually mentions her name. I think that since there are so many different family members a part of this Cousin’s War, that the author did not want to add more names than necessary into the story that she was telling. There are many Elizabeths, Edwards, Richards of the time. For a novice, leaving some names and their importance out of this novel works well, such as the Grey boys, but since I am not, that turned me off a bit, especially since I know the importance of her daughter, Elizabeth of York, who later does become a Queen and mother to the Tudor Dynasty.

The characterization of Elizabeth Woodville in the beginning was very likable and I enjoyed the first person narration. Once Elizabeth Woodville is Queen, she seems to become immediately shallow, spiteful, and vengeful, eager to promote the Woodville names. I liked the way that the seemingly loving marriage was portrayed; Edward was promiscuous and Elizabeth had resigned herself to that even though she outwardly did not like Elizabeth (Jane) Shore. Once disaster strikes the family and her father and brother are killed in battle, she is intent on revenge and not exactly likable at that point either especially when the witchcraft angle is at use. Yet as a mother, I completely fell into pace with her character as she finally realized the extreme danger her royal family was in and I was helplessly rooting for her all the way even though I already knew the general outcome.

Although I was enjoying the way that P. Gregory was depicting the story of the traitors Warwick and Edward’s brother George, I was getting a bit annoyed at the amount of times the author had Elizabeth mentioning that they were “dead men” because she has “their names in the black locket in my jewellrey case and their names will never see the light again until they themselves are in eternal darkness”… which is just one example that shows that the author wants us to believe that Elizabeth and her mother were indeed witches. Several occasions occurred where either the whistles or breaths of the ladies had affected major events in the stories. As far as witches go, I do not subscribe to that idea although I do believe that perhaps they were harmless women attempting any means possible to get what they wanted by trying little tricks and prayers and the like, but I do not believe that they would have certain powers that the author would like us to believe. With these interesting twists to the original facts, readers may not enjoy the overused witch theory.

Other little tricks of the witch angle were used that were said to aid in battles, as well as the sixth sense Elizabeth had that almost had her privy to The Sight. I call it woman’s intuition. There were many references to Melusina, a goddess of the River, hence the origin of Elizabeth’s family name; at the time her brother was the Earl of Rivers. And this brother Anthony Woodville is known as being a scholarly and astute man, and that memory is held intact in the novel. Anthony was shown as disputing the power of Melusina as mere stories, until he was facing his death and he even reflects upon the ‘fact’ that Melusina was Jacquetta’s grandmother. At Anthony’s death we also are treated to an actual poem that he indeed wrote during that time. I was intrigued by Anthony and I look forward to reading some more on him.

Elizabeth is very close to her brother Anthony, the other brothers do not figure prominently until a little more towards the end. Elizabeth’s emotions towards her young boys and her love for her children are emoted quite well throughout, and I felt sorry for her at her inability to see the right way of out of her ordeals. I think everyone who knows the name Elizabeth Woodville would then understand the fact that her two boys by the King Edward had disappeared in the Tower following the death of the King. The novel depicts the king’s brother George Duke of Clarence as an outrageously jealous boy, his and the King’s mother is seemingly doting only on George and could care less for King Edward, and the third York brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester is depicted as a sensitive quiet boy who wants to come into his own in his own time. There are a few of the other main characters of The Wars of The Roses mentioned but they do not feature as prominently, such as Margaret Beaufort, her new husband and her son, Henry Tudor, who is leading the Lancastrians. Overall I did not find in-depth characterizations except just for what Elizabeth W. portrayed them as, which is the downfall of first person narratives, although a few times we slipped into third person to set the scene.

I do not want to give too much away for the actual novel, but the facts are history that many know and there are just so many facts and pertinent events!! This novel does not immediately bode well for the reputation of Richard, the dead King’s brother who decides the throne should be his and not Edward’s son. There are multiple reasons why the nobles do not want Edward and Elizabeth’s children on or near the throne of England. The novel climaxes around the events of these little princes, and we are treated to a rare glimpse of what happened during the period the boys, and how the infamous Princes in the Tower disappeared. The author again takes liberties with the age-old theories, although mostly scoffed at the author uses them for a clever story angle.

There are many more events that occur throughout the novel that correlate to the reality of the Wars of the Roses, such as battles, births, marriages and deaths, but the basis of the novel is indeed fiction and should not be taken as fact. Ages of supporting figures are probably incorrect also. It took awhile to feel accustomed to some of my I-don’t-believe-that-happened thoughts, and I had to remind myself that this was not intended to be a history lesson. The author really did a fine job of spinning the controversy of the rumors into a very entertaining read. Although the initial writing of Phillippa Gregory started off a bit forced it sucked me in quick enough. Aside from the complaints of distortion of facts which is to be expected, and the lack of character development, another criticism I have is that I could not grasp a sense of time. The chapters are divided by dates and those are the only clues we have as to what year we were in. When time passed or the author jumped a few years, we actually didn’t know it unless you were paying attention to the chapter’s dates. I am also sure that there were other minor facts that are misconstrued in the novel, (like dates and people involved in what conspiracy) but I am not that much of a stickler for remembering odd dates and places. I think that Phillippa Gregory wanted to keep us entertained, and since I am forever in awe of the period, and she accomplishes that.

I am sorry for the very long drawn out review, this was a hard one to do because I didn’t want to give the twists away, but I wanted to try and explain my reactions to the book. And it’s not every day I review a Phillippa Gregory book, so instead of deleting all the rambling discussion in the middle here I just kept it in to be true to myself. I realize only 2 of you read it, and I look forward to your responses. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed reading the novel, it was fascinating to read the plot development twists that the author fashioned and helped quench my thirst for more information on Elizabeth Woodville. I do not think that those who wish for more accuracy in their historical reads will thoroughly enjoy this one. The fact that we will never truly know what happened in many instances is still evident, but this is still a worthwhile read for those who enjoy historical fiction that is meant to entertain. The author does well with not tying up loose ends, so we are eager for her next installment. And for those that are not that up-to-speed on The Wars of The Roses, this is a fabulous introduction to one of the views of the period. Just as “The Other Boleyn Girl” beguiled many new fans of the era, and perhaps even started the Tudors media frenzy, I can only hope that this novel also spurs on the debates about The Wars of The Roses. A fabulous time period full of battles, love, treachery, you really should not miss this read.

If you have also read this book, then I direct you to Phillipa’s not exactly live website here (at time of my reviewing) but you really need to be wary if you have not read the book, as it contains serious spoilers. Otherwise for those who received an ARC like I did, this is a good replacement for the Author’s note that we enjoy so much. There is also a group read occurring August and September on Goodreads. It will be separated out by chapters so that you will not get hit with any spoilers. This would have been delightful for me as I was reading it, as sometimes I was bursting at the seams with incredulity, yet other times I was truly aching for Elizabeth’s loss.

I am hosting a giveaway for an unread copy of the ARC of this novel which reached me par avion from the UK which is always fun, but this is for USA addresses only. The ARC is shown in the picture shown above. In order to qualify as an entry, you must do all of the following. (You do NOT need to leave separate comments):

1. Follow This Blog via Google (See sidebar, or the very top of page under your toolbar)

2. Comment with your Email Address telling me if you have read any Phillipa Gregory Books and what your opinion is of them/her.

After all the above is complete, you may:

3. Plus One Entry for a Twitter, Facebook, Blog post or sidebar blurb mentioning this Giveaway with a link back to this review. You must also post the link to where I can find your post doing this. You can also borrow this handy dandy graphic to post it, just don’t forget to link it to here:

Contest Ends: Friday, August 14th 7:00PM CST; I will email the winner who has 48 hours to respond.

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Filed under Elizabeth of York, Elizabeth Woodville, FREE, Medieval Era, New Release, Phillippa Gregory, Review, Wars of the Roses

>The Sunday Salon~ Elizabeth Woodville On My Mind

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The Sunday Salon.com

This week I have been rediscovering my thrill for the Wars of The Roses. A wonderfully intriguing era of England which lasted for about 30 years before Henry Tudor, father to Henry VIII, finally came to the throne. There are so many people involved, so many families and fates sealed that it is a story that keeps breathing new life into itself every time I start reading about it again. And so it is with my current read, The White Queen by Phillippa Gregory. I am happy to report that I am enjoying the novel for its historical fiction and entertainment value; I am unabashedly calling this a must read especially for newbies to the era. The book is being told in first person by Elizabeth Woodville (or Wydeville) who married the Yorkist King Edward IV. She had many children, and two of them were the ill-fated Princes in the Tower that many can recall the story of. Did Richard III do it, or some even say Henry Tudor? Did they both die, or did Prince Richard escape only to reappear as Perkin Warbeck years later? Elizabeth’s eldest daughter is Elizabeth of York, queen to Henry VII.

This is a subject I can go on and on about, but I do not want to just be repeating the billions of other blogs and sites that are devoted to the topic. I will say that Alison Weir’s book “The Wars of The Roses” and “The Princes in the Tower” were very interesting reads, but please read some fiction on the subject to get you going first! Otherwise most of the texts are overflowing with names, dates, battles and facts that the true drama and sense of emotion is taken out of it. The fictional account of Elizabeth Woodville as The White Queen is a wonderful introduction to the period, and must of course only be taken at its entertainment value. If it peaks your interest as I hope it does, then most certainly move on to some of the very informative books out there on the subject. I also have Desmond Sewards’ book on the subject, but haven’t gotten to reading that one yet. I have read David Baldwin’s book “Elizabeth Woodville” and found it lacking the insight one expects to receive when wanting to know more about that particular person. But the book was excellent for a review on The Wars of The Roses, and not a large book at that, so another good summary to get your interest peaked. Then once you have formed your opinions about what really happened to the princes, you need to head on over to Goodreads Group for some debates! There is a fun Richard III group that I enjoy, and they are doing a group read in September I believe of The White Queen.

While I perusing Richard III threads at Goodreads Groups, a note was posted about the passing of Ikonopeiston who’s real name was Jemimi Victoria Finley Fowlkes. I was so sad to learn that she died of kidney and heart failure. I wanted to post it here not to be morbid, but to just write it in case anyone who knew her online had missed the announcement. And then of course I hope she is not upset that she is mentioned in the same blog post that I am touting Phillipa Gregory’s new novel, I hope that is not too much for her soul to bear. She was a beloved member on Goodreads and everyone valued her opinion and thoughts, especially regarding the Medieval Era. My heart goes out to her husband, Roy. Rest in peace, Ikon.

I will have my review up of “The White Queen” closer to its publication date in mid August. I had wanted to do a sort of a group review with my fave fellow bloggers out there but it seems they may not get their books in time. I’m holding off posting my review till I know more of their schedule. So we’ll see how that idea goes, but if anyone has a review to do on The White Queen and wants to join in, let me know and we’ll see what develops 🙂 I will most definitely be doing a giveaway for a brand new copy of the ARC of “The White Queen” at that time as well.

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I must mention that you must come back tomorrow for my Monday Mailbox post, because I am still in awe of the wonderful reads that came my way. I just cannot get to them fast enough, unfortunately. I have had some great mailbox monday’s lately. (see them here). I will be busy for years to come.~~~~

I have to mention that Historically Obsessed had a fun post about Historical Barbie Dolls, technically they are Gene Dolls but still fun to look at. See the original post and click the links to the photos.

As promised, I have been mentioning my birthday presents, and I’ve got a great piece to show you that my mother bought for me which I just received. I love this, the real lace inside is beautiful vintage Bridal Lace. Click the picture to learn all about it, this bracelet is called Antique Beautiful Limoge Roses & Lace Bracelet. My mother spent way too much money on me this year; (see last week’s post to see my other present from mom) I can’t help but wonder if she is trying to make up for the fact it is my first birthday without my father here. Thank you mom, you don’t need to spoil me like crazy (but I LOVE it!!)

Generously added by Joy since my present was late for my birthday I also received a matching Heart Pendant to complement my bracelet. Thank you to you too Joy!! And if you are new to my blog, you need to see my original Birthday Post where an awesome Anne Boleyn bracelet is featured as a present from my husband. And this is the last post you’ll see about presents.. whine.

While I was going over to look at pictures, I found the artists’ Blog, where she posts her creative ideas etc. And I was so thrilled to see so many pictures of her workspace, it was so adorably vintage. Have a look at Joy’s vintage heaven here at her blog called Notes from a Charmed Life. This is her blog and not the official website where you can order jewelry from (http://www.cupidscharm.com/).

So what’s been going on in your world this week? Join The Sunday Salon and post all about it!

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Filed under Elizabeth Woodville, Phillippa Gregory, The Sunday Salon