Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Which is Better?: The White Queen, the first half of the season

The White Queen, a series produced by Starz, combines three books by Philippa Gregory, The White Queen, The Read Queen and The Kingmaker. I reviewed The Red Queen earlier in my blog, and The Kingmaker is in my book stash currently. I stumbled onto The White Queen a few years ago when a vintage store was giving away free books once you've made a purchase.

I didn't intend on comparing the TV series with the books from the series Cousins' War, but like most things, I stumbled upon it on Amazon Prime when Baltimore City closed schools due to the riots and I needed a break from the news. I remembered when this show aired, and there were complaints about the costuming and set up of the show. I didn't have Starz, so it didn't make much difference to me. As you all know Gregory is my girl and so I decided to review the TV series. Since this is not a movie, I am going to break up my review into 2 parts: episodes 1-5 and 2-10.

So the series opens with what I remembered from The White Queen. Elizabeth Woodsville has a premonition and goes to meet King Edward by the side of the road with her 2 sons to beg for her lands back when he husband is killed on the battle field. King Edward is oh, hay, gurl, hay and is captivated by her beauty. There is a bit of a rapey scene but it doesn't happen, and then King Edward comes back and tells Elizabeth that he caught feelings and that they should get married. They get married in secret and they do it a bunch of times before King Edward goes to war. Elizabeth's brother catches them as he leaves and tells her she's duped and that he's done this to other women before.

Then, MAGIC. Elizabeth's mother claims they are descendants of a river goddess and they go to this river and cut string and eventually Elizabeth reels in a crown ring. After King Edward squashes the rebellion, he comes back for Elizabeth. There is a lot of angst over whether Edward will be true to his word, but he is, and Warwick is all kinds of pissed off when Edward goes against him and the treaty of France and announces his marriage to Elizabeth, which kicks off one of the many conflicts of the series.

So, the Cousins' War books documents the War of the Roses, and the battle for the British Crown. Elizabeth and Edward are of York, and Margaret Beaufort, King Henry are of the Lancaster house. Margaret Beaufort, the star of the book The Red Queen, appears briefly in the first episode, then becomes a major player in the series. I like how they flip back and forth between Elizabeth and Margaret. Film gives more flexibility in terms of showing complex opposing sides. Books can also do this, but Gregory doesn't specialize in 900 page books.

They also show Anne and Isabel, Warwick's daughters, or, like the title of the book, The Kingmaker's Daughters. I have not read the book (yet), but not a lot of time was spent on them in the Queen books. They were painted as timid and sickly and not major players. It is very clear that they are pawns in men's thirst for power, and both Anne and Isabel must survive in a world that cares little for them. They have a lot in common with Margaret, though they do have any screen time together so far.

The casting for all the characters is pretty spot on and what I envisioned them to be in the books. The actresses for Isabel and Anne are not ugly women, but they do play the part of plain and thin. At first, I didn't believe the forbidden romance between Jasper Tudor and Margaret Beaufort, but their beliefs in the future of Henry Tudor brought them together and made their draw towards each other more believable.

Again, I have not yet read The Kingmaker's Daughter, so I am unsure if Gregory spent time on Margaret of Anjou, but her and Edward are 4 kinds of creepy. Just... wait and see.

Finally, since I read the article about the costuming, I noticed the zippers and close stitches of the costumes, but it got better as the series went on. I was never a stickler with costuming as long as I got the gist of the time, and I thought the show did a good job of that so far.

I think the show did a great job of combining all three books into one fluid TV show. Can't wait until the second half!

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