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Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the internationally bestselling novel The Other Boleyn Girl. Her Cousin's War novels, reaching their dramatic conclusion with The King's Curse, were the basis for the highly successful BBC series, The White Queen. Philippa's other great interest is the charity that she founded over twenty years ago: Gardens for the Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for over 200 wells in the primary schools of this poor African country. Philippa is a former student of Sussex University and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh University. In 2016, she was presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Historical Fiction Award by the Historical Writers' Association. Her love for history and commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. Philippa lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire and welcomes visitors to her site www.PhilippaGregory.com
Wielding magic again in her latest War of the Roses novel (after The Red Queen), Gregory demonstrates the passion and skill that has made her the queen of English historical fiction. Her heroine-narrator, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, who possesses second sight, is but 14 when she witnesses the execution of Joan of Arc. Joan's persecutor, the duke of Bedford, marries Jacquetta the next year in a vain attempt to access her powers, but then leaves her a wealthy widow. Defying convention, Jacquetta chooses a new husband herself: the duke's handsome young squire, Richard Woodville, with whom she has a dozen children, including Elizabeth, the future queen. Richard serves at King Henry VI's court, and Jacquetta befriends his new queen. When the king's widowed mother weds Owen Tudor, tolerance spreads for women who defy convention. As in previous works, Gregory portrays spirited women at odds with powerful men, endowing distant historical events with drama, and figures long dead or invented with real-life flaws and grand emotions. She makes history (mostly accurate) come alive for readers (mostly women) by giving credence to persistent rumors that academic historians (mostly men) have brushed aside. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The best writers of historical fiction imbue the past with the rich tapestry of life and depth, and Gregory is surely counted among their number. Her third offering in the "Cousins' War" series (after The White Queen and The Red Queen) is the story of Jacquetta, mother of the White Queen, Elizabeth Woodville. Given first to a husband who desires only the magical powers she might possess, Jacquetta marries second for love, much below her station. Still, she manages to keep her family in the good graces of the ineffectual King Henry VI, placing them ultimately on the losing side of the Wars of the Roses. She and her husband hold on, however, finally settling in the country to raise their large brood and await the ascendancy of their daughter Elizabeth, who will bring the family to prominence again. VERDICT A worthy addition to this fascinating series, once again distinguished by excellent characterization, thorough research, and a deft touch with the written word. [With fellow historians David Baldwin and Michael Jones, Gregory is publishing in September a nonfiction account, The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother.-Ed.]-Pam O'Sullivan, SUNY Coll. at Brockport (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.