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The Red Queen - Philippa Gregory
Member Name: katyj10
The Red Queen - Philippa Gregory
Advantages: Historically interesting
Disadvantages: Bit lengthy in parts
This is a review of the 2010 book "The Red Queen" by Phillippa Gregory, an author whom I enjoy reading (but not back to back books by her). She writes fictional historical books based on true, usually Royalty based accounts. I didn't realise this was the second book in the trilogy and jumped straight in to book two but it didn't really spoil it as each book tells an account from a different person's view point.
A bit about
in the Red Queen, the book starts in Spring 1453, and this is during the War of the Roses between The Royal Houses of York and Lancashire. The main character is nine year old Margaret Beaufort who is pious and religious. She hopes to become a nun and devote her life to God but that is not her mother's plan for her who wishes to use her royal lineage (she is cousin to the king) to make a potential heir to the throne. She is betrothed at this young age and married at the young age of 12 to Edmund Tudor with strict instructions to give him a baby boy, which she does at the age of 13, nearly dying in the process. The rest of the book is about her devotion to her son and determination to get him on the throne so that she can become the King's mother, which is as good as being Queen in her eyes.
Tragically, Edmund dies in battle before he meets his son and his brother Jasper becomes a father figure to young Henry. I thought that Margaret might hook up with Jasper but it never happens as Jasper is an enemy of the ruling monarch and is always seemingly on the run.
How many husbands
Two husbands later and Margaret is still plotting against the King and Queen to get her only son on the throne. I really don't know how she gets away with it as she writes treason filled letters and signs her name at the end of them.
Whilst Margaret is pious and proud of her saints knees (from kneeling to pray all the time) she is a very vain woman. Not in the sense that she is bothered about money and fine clothes, but in her own status. It is the thought of being the King's mother that keeps her motivated and loyal to her son throughout the decades which pass in the book. She is disparaging about women who are pretty and jealous of their status in Court. She sends bitter letters to them berating them for their behaviour and they just laugh at her behind her back as to them she is a nobody.
As a reader you get a good insight into the real Margaret and she is really quite a mean and heartless character. She is also a great liar and believes her own untruths and retells false stories to get what she wants. She orders the deaths of the two princes in the tower who challenge her son's line to the throne and later tells whoever will listen that it was the king that killed the princes.
Whilst the main narration is through Margaret, there are letters between her and her husband and Jasper in the book which help to convey the main direction of the story. There is a lot of repetition to establish how loyal Margaret is to the Lancaster House.
I enjoyed reading the book but I did find it took quite a lot of concentration to keep up with events. I found it better to read the book in large sections rather than a few pages at a time. Some of the characters swapped sides so often it was hard to work out who they were supporting. The battle scenes were very descriptive and bloody and you really felt like you were there when reading these pages.
I think it may make sense to read book one in the trilogy to set the scene better if you get chance before reading The Red Queen. It is a genre I do enjoy reading but infrequently so that I enjoy it when I do read a historical fiction novel. Obviously you can guess the ending just by being observant about who was on the throne in these times and so the ending did not come as a surprise to me but even so you were kept guessing right until the last page about how that battle for the throne would end.
Summary: A different read for me