If you loved Philippa Gregory’s famed novel, The White Queen, it’s safe to say you are a fan of historical fiction!
Not only that, but it is also highly likely that you enjoy reading historical novels focused on women. And honestly? I’m on the same page.
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory is the second book in The Plantagenet And Tudor Novel Series and is centered around a real-life queen consort from the 1400s, Elizabeth Woodville.
Gregory does an excellent job of transforming her from an elusive, background figure of the British Wars of the Roses to a leading lady full of emotion, life, and a humanity that modern-day readers can relate to.
This is a work of fiction based on real historical events, that is in part an accurate account of those events, and in part anachronistic in order to tell a compelling story you are sure to enjoy.
If you loved this novel and would love to read more like it, then you’re in the right place.
In this article, I will discuss books like The White Queen, including The Red Queen, Innocent Traitor, Mary Queen Of Scotland And The Isles, The Red Tent, and The Other Boleyn Girl. So, if you’re interested, read on!
Themes In The White Queen
It will be easier to find books like The White Queen by delving into its themes. Philippa Gregory explores and unpacks many different themes in this historical fiction novel. Let’s check them out in more detail below!
The book explores the romance between Elizabeth and Edward IV, looking into how love is impacted by political scheming and revenge.
Motherhood is a huge focus of the novel, which explores the lengths mothers will go to to protect their children. This is tackled not only with Elizabeth and her sons but also with Elizabeth and her own mother.
The reality of women is written through many different lenses in this famed work of fiction, magic being one of them.
Gregory delves into magical realism to discuss womanhood, both dismissing and leaning into age-old superstitions and questions of witchcraft and women’s success.
History in general is explored through the eyes of women and their experiences of these significant events.
It shows another side to real-life happenings, bringing a sense of human emotion and invites readers to peek into the potential realities these people, Elizabeth Woodville in particular, would have faced.
Deceit And Betrayal
Deceit and betrayal are significant themes of The White Queen, seen right at the beginning of the novel until the last few pages.
This was a tumultuous time for the English royal family, and many characters, including Elizabeth herself, have their own agenda and desires regarding the English throne, their power, and the safety and security of their families.
How these desires influence and work against one another keeps those pages turning!
Books Like The White Queen
First on our list is The Red Queen, also written by Philippa Gregory. If you loved the writing style of The White Queen, then you’re sure to love this book, too. The Red Queen is the third book in The Plantagenet and Tudor Novel series.
It is told from the perspective of Margaret Beaufort, an unsympathetic character readers will love to dislike.
Margaret is the widow of Edmund Tudor, who uses her wiles and determination to worm her way into the House of York to secure the future of her family.
- A well-written novel with beautiful prose
- A powerful story told through an interesting perspective
- The main character is unlikeable, which some readers may not enjoy
Themes: Deceit, revenge, betrayal, religion.
Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir is narrated by Lady Jane Grey, a young woman from real-life history who becomes stuck in the center of civil and religious unrest in 1500s England. Jane is a very intelligent, sweet, sympathetic character readers are sure to love.
The story follows her as she tries to navigate her new role as queen, and all of the betrayal, deceit, and tragedy that follows. Alison Weir does a fantastic job of bringing life to history beyond a textbook.
- Well-written, developed main character
- Lots of historical detail
- Some characters feel flat when compared to the protagonist
Themes: Womanhood, deceit, greed, betrayal, and historical and political intrigue.
If you want hard-hitting, historical facts blended with fantastic storytelling and a compelling main character, then look no further than Mary Queen Of Scotland And The Isles, written by Margaret George.
This wonderful work of historical fiction details the life of Mary Queen of Scots, from her childhood in the shining courts of France, to her time as queen in Scotland, to her final days in cold, gray England.
Despite the close attention to historical detail, you will never be bored reading this book.
It focuses on Mary, but other characters occasionally get a chapter told from their perspective, so you can see the full, imagined scope of life and politics during this difficult time in British history.
- A great blend of storytelling and historical fact
- A fantastically written set of characters with unique perspectives
- Jumping to different points of view may be confusing for some readers.
Themes: Deceit, betrayal, womanhood, and historical and political intrigue.
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant is a historical fiction novel set in a different time period than the historical fiction works above.
It is loosely based on the life of Dinah, a minor character in the Book of Genesis from the Bible.
However, much like Philippa Gregory does with Elizabeth Woodville, Anita Diamant works to bring this minor figure to life, making her a fully fleshed-out person with a sense of relatability to modern-day readers which they will feel compelled to read on for.
The Red Tent follows Dinah’s life from birth to death and explores her relationship with her mothers, the wives of Jacob.
- Engrossing read full of fantastic prose
- All of the characters are interesting and written well
- Not a religious story, as it may appear to be which may disappoint some readers
Themes: Womanhood, the complexity of female relationships, power, procreation, murder, and betrayal.
The Other Boleyn Girl is addition 9 to The Plantagenet and Tudor historical fiction novel series. It is about two sisters, Mary and Anne Boleyn competing for the love of the king.
The story is told from Mary’s point of view as she discovers the political plots of her family, choosing to defy them to forge her own path.
This book may not be historically accurate, but it is not supposed to be. Its purpose is to explore women’s complex relationships with one another in a world that sees them as pawns for political gain.
Readers will enjoy the depiction of this complex relationship and how it impacts the world around the characters.
- A fun, easy read
- Complex depiction of women and female relationships
- Not historically accurate, which some readers may not like.
Themes: Power, betrayal, sisterhood, and romance.
Historical fiction is a literary genre that sees stories take place in various points of history, typically involving fictitious characters or fictionalized versions of real-life people. The White Queen is the latter.
The story is told from the perspective of Elizabeth Woodville, a real-life Queen consort from 1400s England, and the story takes place during the Wars of the Roses.
Through her fantastic storytelling, Gregory transforms Elizabeth from a figure pushed to the background of history to a protagonist full of complexities and human emotion that readers cannot help but root for.
Elizabeth finds herself in a dangerous position at a court full of lies and betrayal, and she is hell-bent on revenge, maintaining power, and protecting her family.
The White Queen is a complex story centered around a woman in the royal court of England, and readers who enjoyed this novel will also enjoy others like it, such as The Red Queen, Innocent Traitor, Mary Queen Of Scotland And The Isles, and The Other Boleyn Girl.
The White Queen is also a story of historical motherhood and womanhood, and readers who enjoyed these themes will enjoy The Red Tent.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Historical Fiction?
Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the story takes place in the past. While the events of the past may be true, the story is typically fictitious.
Is The White Queen Historically Accurate?
The White Queen takes place in England’s past and depicts real people and real events.
However, since this is a work of historical fiction, Gregory has taken certain creative liberties which results in some anachronisms regarding characters and events.
What Were The Wars Of The Roses?
The Wars of the Roses were a series of civil wars between the House of Lancaster and the House of York, England. Both houses and their supporters fought for the English throne during 1445-1485.
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