Imagine 15th century England. Elizabeth Grey has just been widowed and living at her parents’ house with her two children. She has heard that the King of England will be passing through, possibly she will be able to bend his ear to inquire about her inheritance from her dead husband’s family.
Not only does she receive assurances that it will be settled with her in laws when she meets the king, the king has fallen smitten with her; through subsequent meetings – some with her family, and in private, she secretly marries the king, and becomes the new Queen of England, unknown to anyone else.
Throughout their initial marriage after it is announced, there is some heavy backlash; people who aren’t happy with the marriage or how the marriage had taken place. There are rumors of the king doing the same kind of thing with another woman, and his scandalous affairs in the past. This doesn’t matter to Elizabeth or the King, so they live their lives as if it hasn’t happened. Some supporters of the King have had long held disagreements of Elizabeth’s family known as the White Rose, whereas the king’s family are known as the Red Rose.
Throughout their marriage, issues and wars have plagued them, family fighting wars against one another, children being born, children dying shortly after birth, but all in all their love for one another has weathered the test of time. As well as Elizabeth being descended from the Burgundy’s who are thought to be from Melusina a magical water goddess or mermaid that has magical powers. Elizabeth has not only been hated by normal folk, she is considered a witch, which is a crime and punishable by death. She is not liked among royal circles, for the verbal wars and occurrences behind closed doors, so that she may be able to secure all of her children’s futures as royals and inheritances, while securing her family roles within the royal family so that they would have some sort of dowry from their position.
I really enjoyed this book. The rich background and historical references of the novel had me wanting to be able to go back in time to relive the time period. With all of the wars, backroom negotiations, who has been plotting revenge against who scenario had me turning the pages as quickly as I was able to and not loose parts of the plot.
The rise and fall of Elizabeth’s family had me wondering. Her power for independence, the fight for what was rightly hers and her children’s gave a glimpse into what a strong and smart woman she was even in that time period, where rumours and lies were commonplace.
The amount of research Phillippa does in her novels is just amazing. Although, this time period and cast of characters really doesn’t have a whole lot written about it, or was lost, phillippa still sails through, and delivers a champion book, that will be adored for many years. I cannot wait for the 2nd book to arrive so that I may immerse myself in the period once again.