For a fun and scandalous look into the history of royal matches, pick up Leslie Carroll’s Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny and Desire.  Carroll covers a long history of royal marriages beginning with Eleanor of Aquitaine in the Middle Ages and ending with the divorce of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.   A few of the gems in Notorious Royal Marriages include:

*King Henry VIII’s six marriages in which he had two wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, beheaded;

*Emperor Franz Joseph and his cousin bride Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) of Austria whose marriage started out with promise but became cold and impersonal after the tragic death of two of their children and her eating disorder;

*Tsar Nicholas and Tsarina Alexandra of Russia whose love story ended when they and their five children were killed during the Russian Revolution;

*British ruler King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson’s marriage in which the ruling monarch gave up the British crown to marry the twice divorced American.

Each couple has their own chapter so it is easy to for you to skip around the book easily, too.  You may think you know many of these stories, but Carroll adds new information that makes it difficult to put the book down!

 

 

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory, begins a new series, The Cousin’s War, in which each book focuses on an important woman who had a pivital role in England’s War of the Roses.

The White Queen tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville, a recent widow with young children, who catches the eye of the young Kind Edward IV.  Elizabeth then marries him in a secret ceremony and becomes queen.  Soon thereafter, the King leaves to fight a battle against his brother, in which the winner will be declared the rightful King of England.

Years later, Elizabeth is caught in the middle of the long standing war and makes drastic decisions as a mother and as a queen.  Her most difficult decision concerned her two sons whose fate as the “princes in the tower,” has baffled historians for centuries.  Philippa Gregory’s book seamlessly weaves historical fact with a fictional but personable account of medieval life in the first person. This fascinating book portrays the epic battles for power, treason, humanity and the dynamics of a royal family.

The White QueenFull of lusty kings and beautiful ladies, political intrigue and devastating battles, Phillipa Gregory begins her next collection of historical fiction stories with the triumphant The White Queen. Following the generation before the Tudors (which Gregory brought to life in her popular The Other Boleyn Girl and others), The White Queen is the first in a series of three books and delivers exactly what Philippa Gregory fans expect: excellent writing, fast-paced stories, complex characters. As always, Gregory never forgets the human side of the stories; these are great men and women who will alter the course of history yet they are also just people, with very human faults and virtues.

With the bloody War of the Roses – where cousin was set against cousin – as a backdrop, The White Queen follows Elizabeth Woodville, a beautiful widow who catches the eye of Edward of York, the new King of England. Despite her being a commoner and from the rival Lancaster family, they marry and Elizabeth – and her family – rise to power and influence with the young king. There is no fairy tale ending though – men who once supported Edward now seek to overthrow him, more battles are fought and the country, already weary with war, is fighting again.

There are many mysteries and intrigues here including what became of Edward and Elizabeth’s oldest sons, the infamous “Princes in the Tower”, whose fate is still unknown today. Gregory takes us into this world, introduces us to its customs and makes us care. It is historical fiction at it’s best.