The White Queen - Philippa Gregory Gregory’s books are always hit or miss for me, so when this was chosen as a group read for Historical Fictionistas I was a bit apprehensive. Turns out this book was a pleasant surprise.

In The White Queen, Gregory plays on the supposed fact that Elizabeth Woodville and her mother Jacquetta are descendants of the river goddess, Melusina. This family connection to the goddess gives the women in Elizabeth’s family special knowledge and powers of sorts. Gregory walks the line between historical fiction and historical fantasy with this one. There is a lot of wishing, praying and witchcraft used as a way to elevate the Woodville family and have things go their way. To me the most interesting parts about this book were the ones that incorporated magical realism. The use of magical realism enhanced the story and fit in with the times when superstitions and accusations of witchcraft were dominant. It also fit in with Elizabeth’s character since there were real life rumors of her practicing witchcraft.

As for Elizabeth’s character, I really didn’t care for her and that’s one of the reasons this book gets 3 stars. In the beginning there is not much substance to her character. As the book continues she seems to get more and more conniving and unlikeable. However, I did enjoy Jacquetta. She seemed to have a nice balance between being motherly and shrewd.

It came up in the group discussion that the Cousins' War series can be read either in chronological or publication order. If you don’t know much about the War of the Roses (like me) my recommendation is to read this series in chronological order. Gregory does fill in the reader on important plot points that led up to Elizabeth’s story by alluding to Jacquetta’s and Margaret of Anjou’s story, but it’s still confusing to keep all the characters straight…especially, since they switch sides when it’s convenient for them.