Florence’s Book Club: White, Red and Rivers

For today’s book club I wanted to share a trilogy that I think many of you may have dipped into, or if you haven’t then I’m recommending you do.

I’ll go right out there and say it, although I read a lot of classics as a teen, once I got into my adult reading years there is a strong theme in the books that I tend to enjoy. Nearly all of them are historical, often depicting historical stories from other cultures, the far East, (Memoirs of a Geisha springs to mind,) pioneers and early travelers. This series is set closer to home and depicts our own bloody Royal history, and focuses on the Women behind The Cousins War, between The Houses of Lancaster and York.

I first read The White Queen a while back and loved the romance and imagery Phillipa Gregory portrays so well, but it’s also fascinating to learn a little more about the real history behind it. Of course the records have been embroidered to serve the purposes of writing a book, but it’s a decent starting point (and I believe there’s now a factual book that accompanies the series and details the evidence behind Phillipa’s research.) The White Queen was a commoner, Elizabeth Woodville who’s sons eventually became the legend of the Princes in the Tower.

On holiday last week I read The Lady of the Rivers , which details the story of Elizabeth’s mother, Jaquetta and talks more about the witchcraft and magic she inherits from her family. It’s the most romantic yet – I loved reading about the young King Henry and Queen Margaret of Anjou – little more than kids yet thrust into leadership and manipulated, exposing all the flaws of the old monarchy. It has more than re-ignited my interest in the series and now I’m about to read The Red Queen about Margaret Beaufort, The White Queen’s greatest adversary. I love reading a book that looks at a story I already know ‘from the other side’ and a new perspective.

Have you read any of The Cousins war or would you like to join me?


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13 thoughts on “Florence’s Book Club: White, Red and Rivers

  1. I really like Phillipa Gregory’s style of writing, but I must admit, I find it hard to remember which of her books I’ve read, and which order I should be reading them in. They all seem to be very similar story lines, and I find myself getting half-way through one of her novels to discover I’ve already read it! Saying that, I loved her book “The Queen’s Fool”, and have read “The White Queen”, so perhaps I will revisit her. x

  2. Love Phillippa Gregory, have read a lot of her books… including the White and Red Queen… havent read lady of the rivers yet.

    I agree with Lynsey, they are quite formulaic but I quite like that sometimes.

    I think we have quite a similar taste in books. Historical (even recent history – especially recent history from other countries/cultures) really floats my boat!

  3. I was literally telling my assistant about these books yesterday. I just handed over the books from the Tudor dynasty and told her to read them first, to properly get the PG bug and then get started on the White Queen. I was going to start the Lady of the Rivers next and then the Red Queen – but maybe I should switch them around?

    I have to say i didn’t like the White Queen as much at the Tudor books but maybe that’s becuase we generally learn more about that period of history in education and so are more invested in the subject matter… saying that, my whole family are mad on history so the Plantagenets and the Wars of the Roses was always coming up as my bro did his various dissertations…. I should have paid more attention!

  4. I love PG as well. I started with The Boleyn Girl and that was it. I love all three of the Cousin’s war series. Maybe that’s because I’m a staunch Yorkist and the War of The Roses means a lot to our history in that part of the world.
    I’ve always been a fan of Historical Fiction though. I like to escape Modern life. Even if it’s just for a little while.
    If you like these you should try Alison Weir as well. Her novel Innocent Traitor gives a brilliant depiction of Lady Jane Grey.

  5. YES!! Love these books, and historical novels are always the ones that draw my attention when I’m looking for my next read – both long-ago history and more recent, including the World Wars.

    Alex – will be trying your recommendation!

  6. How funny, I was only recommending these books to my sister last week.
    I love Philippa Gregory books – they feed my geeky interest in history and I’ve really enjoyed this latest trilogy.

  7. I absolutely love Philippa Gregory – have read virtually all her books after starting off on ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ many moons ago. I’d recommend her Wideacre trilogy too. If you like PG then you’ll love Alison Weir -she is a professional historian who in recent years has branched out into fiction. Her first novel ‘Innocent Traitor’ (about Lady Jane Grey) is sublime, as are her following two novels, ‘The Lady Elizabeth’ (about a young Queen Elizabeth I) and ‘Captive Queen’ (about Eleanor of Aquitaine). I heartily recommend!

    C xxx

  8. I’ve read the White and Red queen and loved them both but I’ve not quite got round to reading The Lady of the Rivers.

    I’ve got a serious book list growing, I’m hoping that the Christmas break will allow me to curl up with a good few books!


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