‘The White Queen’ rises to power

  In a fairy tale, the ascent from supplicant to queen would end in "happily ever after."
  In history, that’s just the place where things start to get ugly.
  Philippa Gregory’s "The White Queen," the first in a new series, opens in the midst of England’s dynastic War of the Roses. Yorkist claimant Edward IV is battling the Lancasters in his campaign to solidify his hold on the throne when he meets a striking widow on the side of the road. The attraction between Edward and Elizabeth is immediate although the relationship appears to have little chance.
  Her family’s loyalties are pledged to the Lancasters, a bond that has cost them dearly now that Edward is in power. In addition, Edward is a notorious womanizer — his reputation causes immediate suspicion among the Woodvilles, who suspect his intentions toward Elizabeth are less than honorable when he marries her in secret.
  But throw in a little meddling from Elizabeth’s mother, who claims the French water goddess Melusina as an ancestor, and the ardor of Edward York, who finds his passion for the dragon-eyed lady to be more than passing lust, and you have one of the greatest matches of the 15th century. After all, Edward and Elizabeth will become the grandparents of Henry VIII.
  Edward is a king born to bloody times. As his consort, Elizabeth is drawn into deadly court politics where the loss of an alliance could destabilize Edward’s entire power structure. Both are surrounded by family, but that’s no guarantee of loyalty at a time when nobles who fancy themselves kingmakers set themselves against Edward for perceived slights and insults. There’s a reason the civil wars were referred to as "The Cousins’ War," a term Gregory adopted as the series’ name. It doesn’t take long for Elizabeth to realize that the peace she knew on her family’s country estate will never be hers as Edward’s chosen consort.
  Knowing that makes her bitter. "I feel worse than I have ever done before, because now I know that it is easier to take a country into war than to bring it to live at peace, and a country at war is a bitter place to live, a risky place to have daughters, and a dangerous place to hope for a son."
  "The White Queen" succeeds in creating a sweeping historical stage that gives the characters context without smothering them in dates and place names. The reader is definitely on Elizabeth’s journey, where her peril grows in proportion to her status. It’s not always good to be the queen, but in Elizabeth’s time, it’s better than the alternative.

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