I'm a sucker for historical fiction, but it's rare that I read a book about British Royalty because, to be perfectly honest, the large character lists with their similar names and titles, scare the pants off me. In fact, The White Queen has sat on my shelves, unread, for about three years and it was only when I saw part of the miniseries currently running on the BBC that I thought it was time to get overmyself and read it.
The White Queen turned out to not be quite as overwhelming as I expected it to be, and sadly, not as good either. Although the character list is rather long, there wasn't really many times I was confused over who was who, as Gregory does connect each one back to the overall storyline at regular intervals.
What I didn't particularly like about The White Queen was the simplicity of the writing - not in the way that made the book easier to read, but rather, the language made it feel less than authentic. I can understand that Gregory wanted to make the story of the War of the Roses more accessible to readers who don't necessarily enjoy complicated language and plots, but to me it was so dumbed-down that I just found it frustrating.
As far as the characters go, there were only a few that felt to me like they were fully realised - even the main character, Elizabeth, wasn't 100% convincing and there were a few times when I wanted to reach through the pages and shake her because she was just so bloody single-minded and didn't seem to learn a single thing from mistakes she had made in the past.
The plot itself is based on historical events, but the pacing is quite uneven - there were long periods of plotting and scheming with very little action or information on what was happening outside Elizabeth's immediate surroundings and in the more fast-paced parts, there were large chunks of time missing or skimmed over in favour of more plotting, double-crossing and back-stabbing.
Despite all my bitching and moaning, I didn't completely dislike The White Queen - I finished it feeling that I knew a great deal more about the Plantagenets and the War of the Roses, and in a way, the simplistic way that the book was written had me turning the pages rather than getting lost and frustrated, but I honestly expected quite a bit more from this book.