Harlequin Historical author and PHS editor Michelle Styles looks at the recent BBC series The White Queen.
Over the summer Sunday evenings, my husband and I sat engrossed in the White Queen --Philippa Gregory's take on the War of the Roses. The tv series is taken from her The Cousins' War series of books and focuses on The White Queen, The Red Queen and the Kingmaker's Daughter.
Basically it looks at the War of the Roses from the women's perspective, in particular Elizabeth Woodville (the White Queen, Yorkist), Margaret Beaufort (the red Queen, Lancaster) and Anne Neville (Earl of Warwick's daughter who becomes Richard III's queen).
As the books do overlap in the same time span, this make sense. It is a bit confusing at first as Margaret Beaufort comes across as slightly mad and more than a little obsessed. The accusations of witchcraft against Elizabeth Woodville as played up and Philippa Gregory has her own take on who was in the Tower and who was responsible for murder. As a Richardian from my senior year in high school, I appreciated her take on it. It made sense.
The books' main theme is how women who traditionally do not have power acquire that power and how they maintain it without it driving them mad.
Unfortunately not enough time is spent on Margaret Beaufort and sometimes it was unclear precisely what she had hoped for and why. I think Gregory also struggled with her as Lady Margaret is a difficult woman to appreciate.
The series is great fun and well worth watching or getting on dvd if you enjoy intrigue and plotting. Some people have called it Game of Thrones without the dragons. Of course, GRR Martin famously based his Westeros on the Border Wars of England and the War of the Roses so this should come as no surprise.
There are plenty of twists and turns and many a well turned calf on the part of the male actors.
The story of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville is one of history's great love stories. It is the last time a commoner became queen of England. Although perhaps she was not so common as her mother, Jacquetta Woodville had been a royal duchess before she married the Duke of Bedford's squire. Jacquetta was also close to Margaret of Anjou and a member of the house of Burgundy. Edward IV is winningly played by Max Irons. Aneurin Barnard plays Richard III and manages to steal the show. I have always loved the romance between Richard and Anne Neville (being a romantic at heart I chose to see it as a romance rather than a shrewd political move which gave Richard control of one of the great fortunes in England) It was a bit of spot the actor as there was cross- pollination from GOT and Ripper Street.
I really enjoyed it. I understand it is currently on in the US and it is worth searching out. I am hoping they do a sequel of the White Princess -- Elizabeth of York and her struggles against the mother-in-law from hell Lady Margaret Beaufort. Gregory's book has just been released and is a great read. Actually all the books are and they do highlight a forgotten aspect of English history -- the women who had a direct say in the outcome of the war of the Roses.