Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen: The Story of Elizabeth of York (Plantagenet Embers Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Much of this attention has been focused primarily, and understandably so, on Edward IV, his youngest brother Richard III, Henry Tudor, and the host of cousins, supporters, and other wealthy noblemen of the day. These figures are big, dynamic, and natural targets for scrutiny. As such they also make accessible subjects for books since their lives and motives appear to be obvious and clear-cut despite the complexities that such claims seem to ignore. However, there is one person who tends to be neglected in this fight for attention: Elizabeth of York, daughter, niece, and wife to kings. Samantha Wilcoxson has made Elizabeth the subject of her book Planagenet Princess, Tudor Queen, a fictionalized look at this remarkable woman’s life and the role she played in the tumultuous events of the late 15th to early 16th Centuries. I think the book succeeds for several reasons.
First, the novel is a very personal account. The story immerses the reader in Elizabeth’s point of view. Events are filtered through Elizabeth’s eyes, through her perspective as filtered by her own experiences and personal knowledge. Elizabeth only knows what Elizabeth knows; she is dependent upon others for information and news of the world as it unfolds around her. Therefore she acts and interacts with her world based sometimes on faulty information and sometimes on truth. She is vulnerable to the whims of those with power over her, her family, and friends. Wilcoxson does a skillful job keeping Elizabeth (and therefore the reader) firmly rooted within the world of Elizabeth’s limited first-hand knowledge.
A second success for the novel is the process of character development. This aspect was a surprise and a true delight for me. Elizabeth starts out as a young, naïve girl, but she grows over the course of the book. She develops layers and complexities as her character is forged in the fire of living life with other complex and layered individuals. As she matures, she learns that no one situation and no single person is ever simple. And no person is perfect. Each person has parts of their personality that is at times honest and others devious, at times constructive and others destructive. These are most clearly seen in her interactions with her mother, Elizabeth Woodville, her uncle Richard, and finally and most compellingly with her husband, Henry Tudor.
And finally, in what is probably the book’s biggest success, is the masterful way Wilcoxson explains how Elizabeth can be the daughter of a king, experience chaotic familial trauma, then go on to make a successful marriage with the man who essentially annihilated her family. I admit to beginning the book skeptical of how this would be pulled off. I had no prior love for Henry Tudor, and I was wary of “what side” would be chosen. But the book made me at varying times angry with, then compassionate towards, and finally indifferent to the man I formerly only despised. A writer who can lead a reader through such a variety of emotions over one character has accomplished a Herculean task. How Wilcoxson manages this is not subject to my review so as to avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say that the journey is highly plausible and very authentic.
Lovers of all things Tudor and those of all things Plantagenet (York) will find common ground in this book, and hopefully will even gain an appreciation for new perspectives as I did.
I didn't like the ending though, it ended unhappily and although this was real life, I would have liked to see Elizabeth more at peace and happy at the end. I went from happily enjoying the book to quite depressed. I also didn't like the author's interpretation of a famous historical mystery but of course that is historical fiction-the author can invent answers to what we do not know. Poor Margaret Beaufort gets the "evil mother in law treatment" once again and while historically the two woman may not have been BFFs, there did seem to be a friendship between them.
Another thing that bothered me is Elizabeth's blind willingness to trust Richard Iii, whom she has every reason to distrust but then when she suspects her loving husband of almost two decades of something, she immediately closes herself off to him. I also thought Elizabeth of York's "love" for her uncle, Richard III was way overdone. A small crush? Maybe. Willingness to marry whichever man, Richard or Henry, who would make her king? Possibly. But she's so in love with him and I wish all authors on this Queen didn't have to go there. There isn't any good evidence for it. I mean, how many times do I need to hear about Richard's arm muscles or green eyes? He WAS her uncle after all.Plus, let's face it, she had a lot of good reason to resent him.
The scenes with Henry and Elizabeth and their children were sweet.
So other than the end, which I didn't like, and the overdoing of the blind love for "Uncle Richard" the book was enjoyable and I really liked the love story between the royal couple. Just wish it had ended with Elizabeth more at peace, and happy with the life she had made as the first Tudor queen, as it made me sad that she did not in this interpretation.
Another I enjoyed was the frequent references to the deep faith of Elizabeth and her husband. Too often historical fictions seem to gloss over how devout the Medieval mind was, to appeal to a more modern audience but Henry and Elizabeth were sustained by their faith throughout their lives and this should be mentioned more. One has to wonder how Henry VIII's parents would take his later religious reforms...
But I must say, out of all of the novels on Elizabeth of York I have read, this was certainly the best one and I will recommend that my other history loving friends read it if they want a nice portrayal of this royal marriage.
The novel follows Elizabeth from childhood, through the destruction of the House of York and the rise of the Tudors, and deep into the reign of Henry VII. Thankfully, Wilcoxson resists the temptation to depict Henry, the béte noir of Ricardians, as anything other than he was: an intelligent, ruthless, understandably insecure man who found himself in an extremely dangerous and unusual situation, and had to exert all his considerable ability merely to survive. Without Elizabeth at his side as a moderating influence and helpful advisor as well devoted wife and mother to his children, he might not have lasted very long.
Admittedly the book contains some elements I disagree with: the interpretation of Elizabeth's relationship with her uncle, Richard III, for instance, and the depiction of Perkin Warbeck. That said, the quality of the prose and storytelling is enough to overcome these minor quibbles. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in this era and the extraordinary personalities at the heart of it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This story makes her even more interesting.
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