You may remember me listing this book in my sidebar a couple months ago as the book I was currently reading. When I checked it out from the library that time, it was so new it was still a "7 Days" book that wasn't renewable. I don't have a huge amount of time to read right now, and I wasn't able to finish reading it before it was due. I finally got it again after a few months, and finished it this week.
I love historical fiction. Actually, I just love history. I love learning about how people lived long ago, seeing how different, and yet how similar, they were to people today. Along with mysteries, historical fiction is probably my favorite genre.
But I did not love The White Queen by Philippa Gregory.
I didn't hate it either. This book was well-researched and well-written, no question about that. And the main character, Elizabeth Woodville (wife of England's King Edward IV), is a complex, believable heroine. The dialog was great, and the description was well balanced -- I could envision the world inside the book, but I wasn't overwhelmed with minutiae.
But after a while, I honestly got bored by all the court intrigue and political finagling, the endless alliances and double-crosses. I kept wanting everyone to just settle down and live peaceably for a chapter or two. It didn't help that half the female characters were named Elizabeth, and most of the men were named Edward, Richard, or George. That got a bit confusing at times, trying to keep everyone straight, like the reverse problem from Russian novels where every character has six different names and nicknames. None of this was the author's fault -- Gregory was dealing with real people and real events. They just weren't the kinds that interest me deeply.
So if you like historical fiction about royalty, chock-full of court intrigue and the machinations of power-hungry people, you'll like this book. If that's not your thing, then you -- like me -- may end up wishing for it to end a hundred or so pages before it does.
(Originally posted on The Huggermugger Blog on Feb. 20, 2010.)