The Red Queen ~ Philippa Gregory

Two royal houses, each thinking that they are the rightful heir to the throne can only mean one thing: War. The Red Queen is the second novel in the Cousins’ War series (the first being The White Queen) and it tells the story of Margaret Beaufort, heiress to the red rose of the House of Lancaster. Being only a girl, Margaret is of no use to her family, except to carry a royal son, so she is married off to Edmund Tudor, half-brother to the King and twice her age. She is sent off to live with her new husband in Wales – alone, widowed and afraid she is left to deal with a difficult labour which nearly kills her but delivers the House of Lancaster its long awaited heir, a son named Henry. Margaret is quickly married off to another kinsman, Henry Stafford, son of the Duke of Buckingham and is forced to leave her son behind with his uncle Jasper in Wales. Margaret is determined to take her destiny into her own hands and to place her son on the throne of England, as it is God’s will. Throughout the ever changing political times, Margaret feigns alliance to the Yorkist Kings (Edward IV and Richard III) and plots to have her son crowned King of England and has him betrothed to the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of the House of York in a plot to united England. 


I love Philippa Gregory’s novels. While this was not one of her best novels, I have to say that it still kept my interest and I still ended up really enjoying the story, despite my dislike of Margaret Beaufort. I get the impression that she wasn’t well liked in life either. I have to say that even though I was not a fan of Margaret in her younger years – common now, a young girl who is convinced that she was the English Joan of Arc based on a few tales she heard from travelling soldiers and actually hoping to hear voices from God as Joan (supposedly) did, but I grew to like her in her adult years. The pious, meek young girl grew into malicious, callous woman with a wicked tongue – some of the best lines in the book came from this woman. I also really enjoyed Margaret’s third husband Sir Thomas Stanley – he was just as shrewd and cynical as Margaret was – and it was his character that really propelled the novel in the latter chapters. I found it very improbable that Margaret and the other characters would repeatedly exchange letters filled with details about their treasonous thoughts, schemes and beliefs as they do in the novel – they might as well have simply asked for their heads to be removed from the rest of their bodies.  

Once again Gregory was able to bring to life another set of historical figures in a way that not many others can. The writing style, the details, the characters, the gripping battle scenes . . . Even though this is part of a series, it could just as easily stand on its own. Gregory once again weaves her magic around the existing historical facts and creates yet another fantastic work of fiction. Overall I found this to be a very enjoyable read about the woman who bound the Houses of Lancaster and York together and who founded the Tudor dynasty. I would recommend this novel to Gregory fans as well as any lover of historical fiction. 

1 comment:

  1. I just finished listening to The Red Queen. It was like watching it on Masterpiece Theater. The audio book really brought the story to life!