The story was good, the telling was interesting. It gripped me from beginning to end. But there were some issues that prevented me from enjoying it fully.
I guess one of the big problems authors face when writing about real historical figures is the character building. Real people don't make very good characters. They're inconstant, irrational, voluble, inconsistent and sometimes downright unlikable. Elizabeth suffers from all those flaws. Her actions at the beginning of the book clash with the middle and the end of the book to the point where she seems like a badly written character. Of course, this is not all Philippa Gregory's fault, since those actions where well documented, but she could have done a better job at smoothing the transition and making it clearer that Elizabeth is changing her mind throughout her life. Instead, the reasonings and internal dialogues in the book make it seem like she has multiple personalities; loving and gentle, forgiving, passionate, meek, subdued, and right on the next page, bloodthirsty and vengeful.
The other thing I didn't like was the excessively repetitive writing style. She gives 4 or 5 examples of everything she says, in every single paragraph
. After a few pages, I found myself skimming through the words until she picked up the story again. And Philippa seems to have a very low opinion of her readers' memories: every time she refers to something that already happened earlier in the book, instead of just mentioning it, she explains it all over again, in depth
. By the time I had reached 40% of the book, I thought, if I read one more time about the damn locket with the scrap of paper torn from her father's letter once more, I would be tempted to throw my Kindle against the wall.
Unlike most reviews I read, I actually liked the witchcraft idea a lot. I thought it might be empowering for the character, and it would fit well with the story. But the way it was done, well... None of her curses seem to work right. Or they backfire. And Elizabeth keep mentioning her witchcraft, and her power, and her being a legacy to the water goddess all the time... And it never really works
! So it feels like empty bluster on her part.
Overall, a nice historical fiction novel. I just wish the character wasn't so unlikable. Will read the other books, to see if this improves.