06 September 2009

The White Queen (Philippa Gregory)

The White Queen.
Not to be confused with The Other Queen.

Ye gods Philippa, at least PRETEND to try.

The name is only the pastel coating on one massive Paris almond of trouble. The Other Queen was quite bad. I didn't finish it, mainly because it jolted between three narratives and NOT ONE of those characters was mildly enigmatic. I'm sure they were interesting in real life, but Gregory, with this new magic of hers which has only surfaced in recent novels, managed to strip them of any remarkable characteristics or three-dimensional thoughts... a feat you must agree is impressive when one of the characters is Mary Queen of Scots.

Not a shrinking violet by any means.

However, in The White Queen Gregory has taken the gormless narrative to a new level of inanity. Her protagonist, the Lady Elizabeth Gray, tells of Edward the Usurper's rise to the throne, the death of her husband and her family's swinging loyalty all within the first page. She meets the king on the third page. She pleads her case, she makes him endure a mild bout of playing hard to get and VOILA they are married. The coronation is grand. Her family's new found power is cemented with several strategic weddings. Uproar! The man who put Edward on the throne is planning to put his brother on the throne instead!

This was a very VERY fascinating period in history. The warring houses of Lancaster and York were both deluded as to their own importance and grabbed what they could accordingly. So it is a splendid, nay, GLORIOUS feat on Gregory's part to have rendered these events monotonous and inconsequential. The above events I just described to you have all occurred within about the first three chapters of the novel. This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is where I stopped reading.

For one, it is exhausting to read at that kind of pace, especially when the quality of the writing is akin to something Mr Squiggle would churn out if he had to give a history lesson. Secondly, I have no love or hatred for any of the characters. None are captivating, all are stick figures in terms of development. (Admittedly, this is probably where Mr Squiggle could actually be of use.)

At the pace the novel is going I assume this (not small) book will cover about three hundred years of English history. Whilst useful for cramming for an exam on this period (admittedly, an exam at the University of Inferiority, where my major would be 'History Taught Succinctly and Melodramatically') I have no other use for this novel.

Oh and the cover is embarrassing. I feel self-conscious on the tube.


You used to be FAB!

The Other Boleyn Girl? That was brilliant!

The Virgin's Lover? Intelligent bodice-ripping at its very best!

Do you know what I think, dearly devoted readers? I think Philippa has stopped writing. This and the last novel (The Other Queen) are terrible. The only reason they were published is because they have her name attached to them. THUS I strongly suspect Philippa is using her millions to holiday in Barbados and has left her ideas for plot lines and characters lying around her house. Great Aunt Millicent (who is house-sitting) has found these notes and decided to do Philippa a favour and bang out a couple of novels. Unfortunately, Great Aunt Millicent is not very worldly and her only foray into reading has been historical Mills and Boons.

In light of this, I suppose we have to cut her some slack. Milly, these are not that dreadful, all things considered.

If, however, my hypothesising is incorrect and Philippa is just churning out this junk herself... I profess myself disappointed.

Rating: 2/10.

I've just remembered I reviewed an earlier work of Gregory's (that I was less than enamoured with) here. Nevertheless, her current work is more substandard than anything I could have imagined.

And we've changed the font to accomodate Internet Explorer/ Safari/ Firefox and Google Chrome. You're welcome.
Search Engine Submission - AddMe