THREE SISTERS, THREE QUEENS by Philippa Gregory (Audiobook)

Three Sisters, Three Queens (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, #8)
THREE SISTERS, THREE QUEENS by Philippa Gregory
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

If you enjoy audiobooks, I would highly recommend listening to THREE SISTERS, THREE QUEENS, because Bianca Amato’s narration is outstanding. This book has a big cast of characters with different voices and accents, and Ms. Amato handled it beautifully. Very entertaining and well done!

So, the title refers to sisters Margaret and Mary Tudor, and their sister-in-law Katherine of Aragon. The book focuses mainly on Margaret, from her girlhood days in the Tudor court, to her years as Queen of Scotland, though Mary and Katherine are always there on the sidelines to annoy, betray, and support, like sisters can do.

I enjoyed Philippa Gregory’s portrayal of Margaret, though she wasn’t easy to like at first. Her character makes quite a transformation from a spoiled princess obsessing over the best gowns and titles to a struggling Regent holding the crown for her only son. She was a fascinating woman whose life was almost as turbulent as that of her granddaughter, Mary, Queen of Scots.

It was interesting to read about Margaret’s life (though, yes, a fictional account) and her rivalry and friendship (frenemies?) with pious Katherine and beautiful Mary. I love Ms. Gregory’s storytelling, didn’t want this one to end. THREE SISTERS, THREE QUEENS is book #8 in The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, though it can easily be read standalone.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Audiobook Review: THE WHITE PRINCESS by Philippa Gregory

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Format: Audio; 15 CDs, 18½ hours
Narrator: Bianca Amato
Series: The Cousins’ War, #5
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Released: July 23, 2013
Source: Review copy from the Publisher

Caught between loyalties, the mother of the Tudors must choose between the red rose and the white.

Philippa Gregory, #1 New York Times best­selling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA Today), presents the latest Cousins’ War novel, the remarkable story of Elizabeth of York, daughter of the White Queen.

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.

———

I’m reading this wonderful series, The Cousins’ War, out of order, but it’s all good. :-) I’ve read THE LADY OF THE RIVERS, which was Book Three, and now, THE WHITE PRINCESS, Book Five. Philippa Gregory has a knack for blending fact with fiction and bringing historical characters to life, making them real and compelling. Fascinating, all of them, even the ones I wanted to throttle.

A quickie historical note: The White Princess in this book is Elizabeth of York, eldest child of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Elizabeth of York was the sister of the Princes in the Tower, the heirs to King Edward IV’s throne after his death. Edward’s brother Richard III had the boys taken to the Tower of London, where they disappeared before the eldest boy could be crowned. Richard III had them declared illegitimate anyway, and took the throne in 1483, the last York king.

THE WHITE PRINCESS begins just after Richard III’s defeat and death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. In theory, the War of the Roses came to an end when Henry Tudor took the crown and married Elizabeth, finally uniting the Houses of Lancaster and York. But, of course, it wasn’t that easy!

Poor Elizabeth. She was madly in love with her Uncle Richard, and was devastated by his death. (o.O) Richard III was going to make his beloved niece his queen, but she was forced to marry his archenemy/murderer instead. Elizabeth was a sympathetic character, just trying to make the best out of a situation beyond her control. In the eyes of her husband, she walked a fine line between being a traitorous York and being his repentant queen throughout their entire marriage. Most of the time she was kept in the dark about the scheming of her husband and his mother to secure his crown, and that of her own mother, Elizabeth Woodville, who longed to see a York restored to the throne.

Elizabeth was a strong woman to have survived her life with Henry. I’m sorry to say that Henry was little more than a paranoid mama’s boy, always believing a ghost prince would swoop in a steal his crown. He was so insecure and unlikable, I kind of felt sorry for the man. (Still, I wanted to smack him a few times.) And then there was his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, an unpleasant, pious, and power-hungry woman. As his chief adviser and one of the few people the king trusted, she fueled his paranoia and put quite a strain on his relationship with Elizabeth.

I listened to the audio version of this book, and it was amazing. Bianca Amato gave a brilliant performance and truly captured the personalities and emotions of the characters. There was a memorable scene between Elizabeth and her son, Prince Arthur, in church where he tells her that she’ll always have him. Bittersweet. *sniffles*

Now, I have to go back and read some of the earlier books in this series, particularly THE WHITE QUEEN, about Elizabeth Woodville. I need to know more about this fascinating woman.

Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: THE LADY OF THE RIVERS by Philippa Gregory

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Series: The Cousins’ War, #3
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: October 18, 2011
Source: Review copy from publisher

Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta always has had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she met his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and saw her own power reflected in the young woman accused of witchcraft. They share the mystery of the tarot card of the wheel of fortune before Joan is taken to a horrific death at the hands of the English rulers of France. Jacquetta understands the danger for a woman who dares to dream.

Jacquetta is married to the Duke of Bedford, English regent of France, and he introduces her to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the duke’s squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the duke’s death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.

The Woodvilles soon achieve a place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the growing threat from the people of England and the danger of royal rivals. Not even their courage and loyalty can keep the House of Lancaster on the throne. Henry the king slides into a mysterious sleep; Margaret the queen turns to untrustworthy favorites for help; and Richard, Duke of York, threatens to overturn the whole kingdom for his rival dynasty.

Jacquetta fights for her king, her queen, and for her daughter Elizabeth for whom Jacquetta can sense an extraordinary and unexpected future: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York.

———

THE LADY OF THE RIVERS is compelling historical fiction inspired by the life of Jacquetta of Luxembourg. In this book, her family is said to be descended from the river goddess, Melusina, and Jacquetta has been gifted with the ability to see into the future. At 17, she becomes the wife of John, Duke of Bedford, who was the English Regent of France under Henry VI. John is only interested in her scrying ability for his own political gain. The duke was many years her senior, and their marriage was brief.

Later, Jacquetta secretly marries her true love, Richard Woodville, who was a squire for the Duke of Bedford. They have many children together (the book mentions 14 of them), despite often being kept apart because of political duties. Jacquetta becomes a close friend to Queen Margaret, Henry VI’s wife. As allies to the king and queen, Jacquetta and her family are caught in the turmoil of the War of the Roses.

THE LADY OF THE RIVERS was an interesting, well written story. This is the first book by Philippa Gregory I’ve read, and it’s obvious that she knows British history from this time period. I am not that familiar with the War of the Roses, and Ms. Gregory made it come to life in rich detail.

After finishing the book, I still haven’t decided if Jacquetta herself was a strong character. She points out many times that women are not meant to make their own paths in life. Women who are a threat to men end up imprisoned or burned at the stake. She’s fearful of her magical gifts. She was very much at the mercy of others, and probably had no choice in the matter. If I calculated correctly, Jacquetta was the great-grandmother of Henry VIII, and the great-great-grandmother of Elizabeth I, so she certainly left an impressive legacy.

I enjoyed the magical elements in the book. They never overpowered the story, and they gave Jacquetta more depth. One of my favorite parts of the book was Jacquetta’s brief friendship with Joan of Arc and how they were tied together by fortune’s wheel.

THE LADY OF THE RIVERS is the third book in Philippa Gregory’s Cousins’ War series:

  1. THE WHITE QUEEN
  2. THE RED QUEEN
  3. THE LADY OF THE RIVERS
  4. THE KINGMAKER’S DAUGHTER
  5. THE WHITE PRINCESS

Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.