Philippa Gregory is the author of many New York Times bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women's history. Many of her works have been adapted for the screen including The Other Boleyn Girl. She graduated from the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Regent. She holds honorary degrees from Teesside University and the University of Sussex. She is a fellow of the Universities of Sussex and Cardiff and was awarded the 2016 Harrogate Festival Award for Contribution to Historical Fiction. She is an honorary research fellow at Birkbeck, University of London. She founded Gardens for the Gambia, a charity to dig wells in poor rural schools in The Gambia, and has provided nearly 200 wells. She welcomes visitors to her website 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.