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The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

Cover of The White Princess
The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

Published by: Touchstone
Published on: July 23, 2013
Page Count: 528
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Reading Format: Audiobook borrowed from my local public library
Audiobook Published by: Simon & Schuster Audio
Narrator: Bianca Amato
Audiobook Length: 19 hours 5 minutes
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook

Summary from the Publisher:

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.

My Review

I have loved Philippa Gregory for the past seven years. Perhaps not every single book she’s written, but more than enough to make her a go to author for me when it comes to Historical Fiction. What I’ve recently discovered is how much I absolutely adore her in audio. I received a review copy of The Kingmaker’s Daughter narrated by Bianca Amato and devoured it like when I first discovered Gregory. I did request a review copy of The White Princess in print, but it was a great fortune that it never arrived. My library happened to have the audiobook on display one weekend and I snatched it up. I loved every second of it, even the little things about Gregory’s writing that tend to make me go a little insane.

The White Princess tells the story of Elizabeth of York, the woman destined to unite England even as she sacrifices her heart. In this telling of her story, she has fallen in love with her Uncle Richard and is devastated by his brutal defeat and murder at the hands of the new king, Henry Tudor. Despite the continuous and unnecessary references to Richard as her lover, I loved the drama of the way Gregory begins this novel. I was immediately drawn into the story and excited for the delicious drama I knew was waiting to unfold.

Bianca Amato did an outstanding job narrating The White Princess. The many tense scenes between Elizabeth and Henry and Elizabeth and her mother-in-law were made that much more compelling by her performance. While listening to this book I came to realize how much these books are like royal soap operas and I do love a good soap. Having never experienced soap operas when they were performed on radio, I had no idea how they could keep you tuning back in just as much as their televised counterparts. That this was all done through the many voices of one woman is so very impressive. What’s more, it took the little things about Gregory’s writing that irritate me and transformed them into the similarly annoying yet endearing devices employed by daytime dramas. Thus the continual repeat of a person’s name and title (Come on! Elizabeth is fully aware of who her grandmother is!) became just like the unnatural pause and over acted facial expressions of the soap star waiting for the show to go to commercial. I cannot recommend experiencing Philippa Gregory through Amato’s narration. It’s brilliant.

The White Princess concludes Philippa Gregory’s The Cousin’s War series and it was most definitely my favorite of the group. Like so many royal daughters before her, Elizabeth is forced to marry a man she did not love for the betterment of her family and her country. What I appreciated the most about this book was the way in which Elizabeth’s heart came to terms with the combining and fortifying of the Houses of Lancaster and York in much the same tumultuous way as did the whole of England. I enjoyed the glimpses of Henry VIII as a young boy as well. As the book drew to a close, I couldn’t have asked for a better ending. For me, this is Philippa Gregory at her finest.

6 Comments

  • At 2013.10.01 09:51, Ellison Weist said:

    This is definitely pushing me towards trying some audio books, Jennifer. Especially if I start needlepointing or knitting again. Excellent review and I’m intrigued by how you were able to overlook some of Gregory’s writing quirks by listening versus reading. Plus I’m a huge Tudor nut.

    Happy October!

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    • At 2013.10.02 21:10, Jennifer said:

      If you look at this as radio drama, you’ll be hooked!

    • At 2013.10.01 10:27, Julie said:

      I’ve given up on her. I used to love her and then I found her writing was irking me. With so many other authors out there doing great things with Historical Fiction, I’m not sure if I will return to her or not.

      • At 2013.10.02 21:11, Jennifer said:

        I went through a burn out period, so I can definitely relate. She made me love historical fiction, so I’ll always have a soft spot for her.

      • At 2013.10.16 20:39, Kerry Etheridge said:

        I just finished reading The White Princess after devouring the first four books of The Cousins’ War series. Now I’m looking forward to tacking the Tudor series next. But I have to say that audio books just haven’t caught on for me. I find my mind wandering and then I have to backtrack to hear what I missed. When I’m holding a book in front of me, I stay focused on the printed page in front of me.

        Thanks for sharing the review.

        Kerry

        • At 2013.11.28 23:18, Jean Hyduchak said:

          I have been an audio fan for at least the past twenty-five years. I remember when audio books were
          used only for the blind, and very amateur. Thank goodness for the professionals today. They are
          like the story tellers of old. I use them (audio books) when painting (rooms), gardening, walking, etc. Isn’t it grand that we can multi-task? Life is so short and there are sooooo many books.

          (Required)
          (Required, will not be published)

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