I am a massive fan of historical fiction and the first books I was introduced to from this genre were by Philippa Gregory. The Cousins War series has a total of six books and some of them were a hit for me and some of them I didn’t enjoy as much.
The first book of the series is called The Lady of the Rivers and introduces us with Jacquetta of Luxembourg, who was a teenager during the Hundred Years’ War and her family held captive Joan of Arc. Young Jacquetta lives with her family before she is married off to the Duke of Bedford (brother of Henry V). She witnesses the execution of her friend Joan and that traumatizes her. It is also revealed to her that her lineage comes from the water goddess Melusina, so the females of the line have magical abilities.
The scandal around Jacquetta is that after the Duke of Bedford dies, she falls in love and marries his squire, Richard Woodville. The couple was fined £1,000 for not asking the king’s permission and Jacquetta loses her title. The book follows closely Jacquetta’s discovery of magic, her love story with Richard Woodville, her becoming a mother and being chief lady in waiting to Queen Margaret of Anjou.
I recommend this book because Jacquetta is an important figure (even modern day monarchs come from her lineage. Read her Wikipedia page).
My rating: 5/5 stars
A quote: “The wheel of fortune […] tells us that we all only want victory. We all want to triumph. But we all have to learn to endure what comes. We have to learn to treat misfortune and great fortune with indifference. That is wisdom.”
The second book in the series is The White Queen and it follows the story of Elizabeth Woodville (daughter of Jacquetta), from the time she falls in love with King Edward IV, their scandalous wedding and the life they had while he ruled, and finally to the uncertainty after his death. I’ve already spoken about the show here but the book is just as much worth it. Elizabeth Woodville was the daughter of a humble squire and she became Queen Consort to the King that brought peace to England. She schemed, plotted but also was very pious and was and had a strong maternal figure. She is the mother of the Princes of the Tower and the mother of Elizabeth of York, and grandmother of Henry VIII. She lost the love of her life and her “two most precious jewels” and still found a way to secure the inheritance of her eldest daughter.
My rating: 5/5 stars
A quote: “If there is love enough,then nothing-not nature, not even death itself- can come between two who love each other.”
The next book in the series is The Red Queen which follows the story of Margaret Beaufort, who was a Lancastrian heiress and mother of Henry VII. The book follows Margaret’s story since childhood, expresses her desires to be a nun, shows how she is married off to Edmund Tudor /in order to produce the #ultimate Lancastrian heir, Henry Tudor (Henry VII)./ Edmund dies before she even gives birth and at age 12, Margaret is a single mother whose fate and the fate of her child depends on the whims of Kings. When the Yorks take over the throne, Margaret is sent away from her son, and she sees him rarely in his childhood and adolescence. Despite the struggles in their early relationship, Margaret plots, schemes and makes alliances by marrying herself off to see that her son would inherit the throne and become the first Tudor king. Her devotion to her son stands right next to her devotion to God and it is powerful and unwavering. I think she was quite formidable. /Interestingly enough, she outlives her son and dies after the coronation of Henry VIII./ Margaret appears in both TV shows /The White Queen and The White Princess/ and is mentioned throughout the series.
My rating: 3/5 stars
A quote: “The king is a saint and cannot rule, and his son is a devil and should not.”
The Kingmaker’s Daughter is one of the books I expected more from. Anne Neville is a very interesting historical figure and I found her character in the book to be quite foggy-minded with momentary sparks of genius. Anne Neville was the daughter of Richard Neville, more commonly known as the Kingmaker, for he helped crown Edward IV, and then turned coat and fought for the Lancastrian cause. He and his wife had two daughters, Isabel and Anne Neville, who inherited their great fortune. To broker the deal with the Lancastrians and pledge his loyalty to them, the Kingmaker married off his youngest daughter to the Lancastrian prince Edward. Edward had a reputation of a monster and thankfully for Anne, their marriage did not last long. After her father was slaughtered at the battle of Barnet, Anne’s mother chose to remain in sanctuary and Anne’s fate was uncertain as she was married off to the wrong house, and her sister was married to King Edward IV’s younger brother, George.
The romance between Richard III and Anne Neville is quite interesting, he saves her from the fall of her house, marries her and takes her inheritance. She is at his side when he becomes king and she plots against her sister-in-law Elizabeth. She, alongside Margaret of Beaufort, is suspected for the disappearance of the Princes of the Tower.
My rating: 3/5 stars
A quote: “You are my heart. Even if you are a broken heart”
I am very salty when it comes to this book, because Elizabeth of York is one of my favorite historical figures and I believe she is quite underestimated in this book. Her character has more or less the dimensions of a wet paper towel, she succumbs to every command she is given and shows no backbone at all. All she does is mope for her supposed romance with Richard III and then be salty about her failed relationship with her husband.
This is why I recommend you skip this book and just watch the show. Read more about the show here.
My rating: 1/5 stars
A quote: “We the daughters of Melusina,’ she corrects me. ‘Your grandmother was a daughter of the water goddess of the royal house of Burgundy and she never forgot that she was both royal and magical. When I was your age I didn’t know whether she could summon up a storm or whatever it was all just luck and pretence to get her own way. But she taught me that there is nothing in the world more powerful than a woman who knows what she wants and walks a straight road towards it.”
Last but not least in the series, we come to The King’s Curse, a story about the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII and their courts, told from the perspective of the often overlooked Margaret Plantagenet. Margaret was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence and Isabel Neville, which made her and her brother a threat to the Tudor rule. Seeing her brother imprisoned for the crime of being born, Margaret sought to rid herself of the name Plantagenet by marrying below her status a common knight, who gave her safety and distance from the Tudors.
Margaret’s story and life are quite interesting so I will not spoil the book too much, but I definitely recommend reading this book and then watching The White Princess because her character is amazing there as well. She was Henry VIII’s favorite aunt, he valued her opinion, he supported her family, he restored her status as a Plantagenet princess … and he beheaded her.
My rating: 2/5 stars
A quote: “But Elizabeth and I are accustomed to loss, we are Plantagenets—we dine on a diet of betrayal and heartbreak.”
Have you read this series? Which book was your favorite?