The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Published on: August 2010
Page Count: 400 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Reading Format: Hardcover review copy sent to me by the publisher.
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Giveaway: Simon & Schuster graciously provided me with a second hardcover review copy of The Red Queen for one of my lucky readers. For an entry, simply fill out the Google Form at the end of the review. Just for fun, tell me what color you would be if you were queen. Entries are accepted until Tuesday, August 17 at 11:59 PM EST. Good luck!
Margaret Beaufort is a devout little girl. She spends as many hours in prayer as her mother and nurse will allow. She is fascinated with Joan of Arc and pictures herself one day running a monastary. That is never going to happen. As the daughter of deceased John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, she herself is in line for the throne. The House of Lancaster has very few heirs, so it is imperative that she marry and mother sons as soon as possible. She is married to Edmund Tudor at the early age of 12. Within a years’ time, her husband is killed defending the Lancasters, but he leaves her with a son in her belly. She is certain that her son will one day be the King of England because she believes that God spoke this to her as He spoke to Joan. She makes it her live’s mission and duty to see God’s will be done.
The Red Queen is the second novel in Philippa Gregory’s series about England’s 15th Century Plategents. The Red Queen is a good counterpart to The White Queen. It balances out Elizabeth Woodville’s story in more ways than one. It tells the Lancaster family’s story where the first told that of the York family. Margaret is devoutly Roman Catholic where Elizabeth was mystyical. Elizabeth was tentative about the future of her family while Margaret is rarely indecisive. She believes that God’s will is for her son to be the future King of England and, as it’s God’s will, she had no cause to ever doubt it. It also compliments the first novel by discussing her views of Elizabeth and whether she was a witch. You saw Margaret’s intentions behind the correspondence that gave Elizabeth hope. The two books fit together like puzzle pieces in that way.
There were two aspects of Lady Margaret’s character that stood out for me – her self-righteousness and her resentfulness. She is certain that God speaks to her as he did to Joan of Arc. Therefore, she believed she could not sin or be in the wrong. Over time, a supposed grace from God became her own personal infalibility. She may have felt that Elizabeth was deluded by her relationship to Melusina, but Margaret was no less misguided herself. She had to believe that she was special to God because the alternatives left her cold. Had she been born a boy, she would have herself been in line to the throne and her very existence would have been cherished and protected. As it was, she was just a bridge to the next generation of the House of Lancaster. Her ultimate destiny never concerned anyone but herself. Knowing that her family, most especially her mother, thought of her life as nothing more than a means to an end infuriated her. I think she was driven more by that resentment than anything else. The House of Lancaster got the son off of her that it wanted, but she created a sense of her own control where she had none through her special relationship with God.
I really enjoyed The Red Queen, especially after having read The White Queen. There were sections where Lady Margaret’s self-righteousness started to iritate me in similarly to Catherine of Aragon in The Constant Princess, but plotting and the scheming kept me interested. I especially loved the relationship between Margaret and her third husband, Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby. All things considered, he was a perfect match for her. The novel finished especially strong on the battlefield at Bosworth. I knew the outcome beforehand, but I still found myself holding my breath a little. Although the next book in this series will feature Elizabeth Woodville’s mother, I’m looking forward to meeting Lady Margaret once again as “the mother-in-law.” I am really enjoying this series and highly recommend The Red Queen.
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