"The Red Queen"
by Philippa Gregory
Source: ARC sent by publisher in exchange for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Book Summary from Goodreads.com:
The second book in Philippa's stunning new trilogy, The Cousins War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series - The White Queen - but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses. The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England. Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth's daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty.
Margaret Beaufort isn't really a likable heroine. She was so stiff and unemotional, it was hard for me to relate to her. This criticism isn't against the author, it's just what you have to deal with in historical fiction based on real life.
When Margaret was a child, her prickliness was actually cute. And how can you not laugh when she rejoices at her knees being callused from kneeling in prayer, calling them 'Saint's Knees.'
I sympathized with her being forced into marriage with Edmund, who never really cared about her at all. And the scene where she has her baby, Henry Tudor, is heartbreaking because her own mother tells the midwife to save the baby at the expense of Margaret. So, I do understand that she has had a hard life and has felt unloved. However, it seemed like she only cared about her son for what he could do for her-make her the mother of a King.
Some of the interaction between Margaret and her brother-in-law Jasper Tudor was really romantic, but neither of them really went the extra mile to be together.
I really started to get frustrated with Margaret at her careless treatment of her second husband, Henry Stafford. He was never anything but nice to her and gave her a very comfortable life. But she was always mean to him and acted like she was disappointed in him because he lacked her all-consuming ambition.
The story was fast and intriguing. I was surprised I stayed so interested because I had just finished reading The White Queen-which dealt with the same time period and events from a different perspective.
Main Characters: 3/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5
Bottom Line:I think readers will be fascinated by Margaret's story even if she isn't the most endearing heroine.
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And if you missed my review for "The White Queen" check it out here!