26 May 2022

Review: Elizabeth of York - The Last White Rose by Alison Weir

Elizabeth of York - The Last White Rose by Alison Weir book cover

* Copy courtesy of Hachette Australia *

Elizabeth of York - The Last White Rose is my sixth book by Alison Weir, and astonishingly (or not) they've all been five star reads.... including this one!

Elizabeth of York was the first Tudor queen and was born in 1466. Thanks to reading a number of books by Philippa Gregory over the years - namely The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Lady of the Rivers - I was reasonably familiar with the Houses of Lancaster and York and of course the War of the Roses. Given the number of Richards, Elizabeths and Henrys of the period, I was grateful for this foundational knowledge and able to relax immediately into the story.

The novel begins in 1470, when Elizabeth is just 4 years old and takes the reader through to her death from childbed fever (or post partum infection) in 1503. It should be noted that Elizabeth of York - The Last White Rose is a standalone historical fiction novel, and unconnected to her Six Tudor Queens series. In following her life, the novel does seem to take the same chronological structure as her Tudor Queens novels, and could easily be read alongside any of the novels I've linked in this review.

The reader gets a great sense of Elizabeth, and her portrayal by Jodie Comer in the historical drama miniseries The White Princess, in addition to Michelle Fairley's portrayal of Lady Margaret Beaufort, were both firmly in my mind as I was reading.
"I will be Queen of England! I care not whether I hang, burn or drown in the attempt, for otherwise my life is not worth living." Page 220
The novel covers the disappearance and potential murder of the two Princes in the Tower in 1483, a case from history that still fascinates historians today. The Princes were Elizabeth of York's younger brothers and I enjoyed exploring this topic in To The Tower Born by Robin Maxwell back in 2011. Alison Weir has her own take on Richard III and what transpired in the Tower of London, which is very different to Philippa Gregory's version of events. However, it should be said that a centuries old unsolved disappearance lends itself to multiple interpretations and I enjoyed Alison Weir's here.

The future King Henry VIII is one of many children born (yes, Elizabeth of York is the mother of Henry VIII) and we see him grow as a charming young boy at the periphery of this novel, only to lose his brother Arthur to the sweating sickness in 1502. When Elizabeth dies Henry is just 12 years old, so it was comforting to know what happens to him and his siblings long after the book concludes. No cliffhangers here!

As in her previous books, Weir's writing in Elizabeth of York was evocative and I managed to keep up with the various betrothals, alliances, rebellions, pretenders, usurpers, treasonous plots, royal progresses, betrayals and executions.

Researching in preparation for this review, I just learned that Elizabeth of York - The Last White Rose is the first in a new series by Alison Weir called Tudor Rose. As I write this, there are a further two books planned and the series will be about a mother (Elizabeth of York), a son (Henry VIII) and a daughter (Mary I); a series spanning three generations. I can tell this is going to be an epic series and I'm eager to keep reading. Will the next one continue the 5 star streak? Let's see.

My Rating:

Would you like to comment?

  1. I've ordered this one from the library - thanks!

    1. You've made my day Carole! I hope you love it 😊

  2. I read Alison Weir years ago but have never picked up another one of her books since!

    Thanks for sharing this book with the Hist Fic challenge!

    1. Thanks Marg, it was an absolute pleasure to bring this book to the Hist Fic Challenge and hopefully this author pops up in your TBR in the future 😉


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