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The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Fri September 18th, 2009, 12:27 pm

We'll have to get BB or Sharon to weigh in on the subject, but I thought a relationship between R3 and Elizabeth of York was on the scale of a rumor and not fact. Or a girlhood crush on an older man depending on which novel you read.
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boswellbaxter
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Post by boswellbaxter » Fri September 18th, 2009, 12:37 pm

George Buck, who wrote a book about Richard III in the 17th century, claims to have seen a letter that Elizabeth of York wrote to the Duke of Norfolk in which she said that she thought that Queen Anne would never die and that she hoped that Norfolk would promote Elizabeth's marriage. The problem is, no one but Buck saw the letter, which has disappeared if it ever existed, and we have no idea whether he's accurately paraphrasing its contents. Even if one believes the letter, though, it certainly doesn't prove that Elizabeth had a sexual relationship with Richard III, as Gregory seems to think. (There's also evidence that during the summer of 1485, negotiations were underway for both Elizabeth and Richard to marry Portuguese spouses. Richard would have hardly wanted to send a non-virgin-bride to Portugal.)

It is true, however, that when Anne died, Richard had to publicly deny rumors that he was thinking of marrying Elizabeth and that he had poisoned Anne.
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Miss Moppet
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Post by Miss Moppet » Fri September 18th, 2009, 10:11 pm

I think it's possible Richard considered marrying Elizabeth for much the same reasons Henry VII ended up marrying her - to strengthen his claim to the throne. In his defence, uncle-niece marriage wasn't much less acceptable than first-cousin marriage at this time. The Habsburgs married nieces to uncles when no cousins were available. In fact the practice persisted into the C19 - the Rothschilds always married relatives to keep family money in the family and some of them married their nieces. Then along came Darwin and suddenly even cousin marriage became less acceptable. You can see it in fiction - C19 novels often have the heroine marrying her first cousin (Fanny Price), C20 ones don't.

That doesn't mean I think Richard would poison Anne, no doubt he could have found a legal way of putting her aside if he'd decided to go ahead with the marriage. But as Boswell says, it beggars belief that he'd have slept with Elizabeth. As for her feelings for him, maybe she was eager for the marriage but that may well have been because she wanted to be a queen.

I'd accept that Richard considered the marriage and that Elizabeth had a crush/teenage attraction to alpha male plus ambition to be queen - but I think a sexual affair is highly implausible and PG sounds like she's treating it as accepted historical fact.

Re incest as a theme, I always have to avert my eyes from those scenes in TOBG, while enjoying the rest of the book. But if you set the defaming-the-dead issue aside, I don't blame PG for writing about it. I think all writers have their pet themes which they can't keep away from and which come out again and again in their books. This one happens to be distasteful but it's PG's prerogative as an artist to write about it and make sense of it if she can.

I have to say though, I don't think she'd be quite so popular if she wrote mainly contemporary stuff. I think the historical background distances the action for readers so they find the incest/witchcraft slightly less offensive.

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Post by Divia » Fri September 18th, 2009, 10:54 pm

[quote=""EC2""]Well, I dunno. I wouldn't buy a book with incest as a theme, but then again, perhaps I'm not run of the mill. It would be interesting as an exercise to list all of PG's books and count those that include themes of witchcraft and/or incest then take it as a percentage.[/quote]

Yeah I'm not sure I would run out and buy a book cause it had incest in it. But maybe I am in the minority with EC2 ;)
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Post by Tanzanite » Fri September 18th, 2009, 11:01 pm

I'm Ok if she wants to make an affair between Richard and Elizabeth part of her novel, but I think she crosses the line when she touts it as "fact" unless she's got something to back it up. Of course this isn't the first time she's done this...

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Post by boswellbaxter » Fri September 18th, 2009, 11:19 pm

[quote=""Tanzanite""]I'm Ok if she wants to make an affair between Richard and Elizabeth part of her novel, but I think she crosses the line when she touts it as "fact" unless she's got something to back it up. Of course this isn't the first time she's done this...[/quote]

That's what irritates me--her claiming things as undisputed facts that are either debatable or not facts at all, as in The Other Boleyn Girl where she asserts in an interview printed in the back matter that Anne Boleyn was "clearly guilty of one murder." Huh?
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Post by Miss Moppet » Fri September 18th, 2009, 11:51 pm

[quote=""boswellbaxter""]That's what irritates me--her claiming things as undisputed facts that are either debatable or not facts at all[/quote]

Exactly BB, this is what I meant to say, better put.

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Post by nona » Sat September 19th, 2009, 3:23 am

ok I said I would not read this however I forgot I put a hold request on it and they called me today to pick it up so for the sake of saying I at least tried I will start it next week, after I finish my current read.

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Post by Madeleine » Sat September 19th, 2009, 12:28 pm

Haven't read this yet but incest/witchcraft wouldn't put me off a book if it was part of the overall story, whether true or not, and, as other people have pointed out, in-breeding was pretty common in those days to keep the bloodline, in fact it's one of the possible reasons why our own royal family had a history of porphyria. And PG isn't the first person to suggest that Anne Boleyn committed incest, and I'm sure she won't be the last one either!
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Post by EC2 » Sat September 19th, 2009, 6:29 pm

I should be starting this by Monday at the latest. Just got about 50 pages left on The Host by Stephenie Meyer now (5 stars).
I know fiction is fiction and fact is fact, but I think if you are writing about real people, you owe them integrity and while you might speculate, you should keep it within the bounds of the probable, or at least the plausible.
Some authors will say 'It's only a story' when it suits them, and on other occasions talk as if their work is indisputable fact and they have stuck closely to the history. It sends out mixed messages.
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