Elizabeth Woodville, witch or maligned by history? Jarman recounts the life of Elizabeth Woodville, daughter of Richard Woodville, Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. As a young girl she serves at the court of Henry VI as maid of honor to Marguerite d’Anjou until she meets and marries John Grey (a true love match according to the author) and bears two sons. When Grey is killed while fighting for the Lancastrians, Elizabeth’s mother Jacquetta sets her sights on Edward IV and herein Jarman weaves the story of the Woodville’s alleged sorcery and descent from Melusine as they drive Edward mad with lust that can only be slated with a wedding ring.
The novel then moves on to known history, Elizabeth’s marriage to Edward, her times in sanctuary, the infamous Jane Shore, Edward’s death and the ascent of Richard III to the throne as through Titulus Regius Edward and Elizabeth’s children are named illegitimate. After Richard is defeated at Bosworth the story then focuses more on Edward’s illegitimate daughter, Grace Plantagenet, and her love/hate relationship with Elizabeth.
This all sounded promising, even though the witchcraft and descent from Melusine are allegedly nothing but rumor and speculation. Unfortunately the author’s over the top flowery prose and the “visions” and “dreams” not only didn’t hold my attention, she flat out lost me at times and I couldn’t follow what was going on. A minor quibble and not being a historian I can’t say if its right or wrong, but the author had both Marguerite d’Anjou and Elizabeth (when Queen) addressed as “My Liege” instead of “Your Grace”, or she switched between the two and that also kept throwing me out of the story. In the end, it’s certainly not the worst book I’ve read on the period but then it’s far from being the best either. Get it from the library if you must and then buy it if you love it.