The RedQueen is far more engrossing compared to the White Queen, however there are some key historical points that make Margaret Beaufort into a monster. She was a wealthy aristocrat who was descended from a line of John of Gaunt who never was supposed to descend to the throne. However, the real plot point the destroys an otherwise beautiful book is the Princes in the Tower. Anyone who knows anything about English history will know what I am talking about. The politics of the book are wonderful, where Elizabeth seemed like a wooden character, Margaret is full of life and tenacity, the interesting portrayal of King Henry VI is rare, but she relies too much on drama and not enough fact, King Henry the VII ascended to the throne because it was his right after the death of Richard III, marrying Elizabeth of York cemented his claim. Her portrayal of the first Tudor queen is difficult, Margaret is magnificent, the characters needed to be true to themselves, and she turns the first Tudor queen consort into a woman of questionable standards, that is wrong. The book is great, but more research and less secondary source depandance would help.
I love history and Philippa Gregory is a master at writing historical fiction. I truly loved the first book in this series (The White Queen) but besides enjoying the beautiful way in which this second book was written, didn't really care for The Red Queen. I think I think it's because the main character, Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, was just plain unlikeable. I felt sorry for her at first when she was shipped off to be married the first time at age 12 to Edmund Tudor but soon grew tired of her holier-than-thou attitude. She sees herself as Joan of Arc and never lets her second husband, Henry Stafford, forget it. He is a patient, loving and tolerant husband to her and she is, as portrayed in the story, a shrewish nun-wannabe. Margaret gets what she deserves in her third husband, Thomas Stanley, who is just as cold, calculating and ambitious as she. I'm all for being religiously devout but... GEEZE! She really goes off the deep end! I don't think God would subscribe to the murder of the two little princes just so her son Henry Tudor can take the throne. But, in the end, it's only a fictional account of true historical events. It's an okay read and a bridge to book #3. I am looking forward to it!
Philippa Gregory has a unique talent to bring history to life and give an in-depth look into the lives of her characters. What I find very fascinating about Gregory's writing is that she bases her books on fact. While her novels are fiction, it is easy to see the amount of research done to really build her fictional work from a historical foundation. Her style of writing is very easy to read, understand, and follow.
While I am a huge Philippa Gregory fan, I have found that some of her novels are more "meaty" than others. For instance, I believe Wideacre to be a more "thick" story than The RedQueen. While The Red Queen is an easy and enjoyable read, I found it to be almost too short. I was able to read this book in only a few nights. I would personally prefer the story to be a little more detailed and filled out, but I do feel that she included enough details to get the main points of the story across- such as the triumph of Margaret Beaufort's son Henry Tudor.
As the second novel in The Cousins' Series, Gregory tells the story of the battle between the House of York and the House of Lancaster for the throne of England from the Lancaster perspective. Specifically, it is told from the point of view of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor. While I believe it would be beneficial to read The White Queen before reading this book, it is written well enough to be read independently (although references to parts of The White Queen occur frequently). Also, it is interesting to read about the same time period covered by both books, but view it from two completely different vantage points.
In the novel, we experience the maturation of the highly religious Margaret Beaufort, from her wedding as a child bride to Tudor in hopes of producing and heir to the throne, to her child birth experience when she found out that her own mother had instructed her midwives to save the baby if they must choose between the baby or Margaret. From that point on, Margaret fights to put her son first, knowing in her heart and soul that Henry must be king. Margaret was devout, and believed that she directly heard the voice of God, and that He directed her and guided her. Gregory makes it very clear that Margaret believed herself to be almost divine, and in fact, knew that her destiny would see her as Margaret R., mother of the King of England. Margaret's piety and visions play an integral role in her actions. She compared herself to Joan of Arc and would tell anyone who would listen of how she herself was almost one with God.
The rest of the story takes us through Margaret's life after having Henry. She is kept from him in his childhood and young adulthood, and he is raised by a handful of other people, including their enemy. The entire journey that we experience with Margaret through the writing of Gregory is full of adventure, detail, and will keep you hooked. We get to experience the emotion she felt, as well as understand her drive because of her religious beliefs. I feel that Gregory has done a wonderful job of telling Margaret Beaufort's story by giving readers a special deep understanding of this strong woman. I think that it is important while reading this book to keep in mind that it is fiction, based on facts in history, but written to make history come to life. While the plain textbook historical facts of Margaret's life may be boring to read, Gregory has managed to fill in the blanks in a way that only she can and truly bring Margaret's determined tale into vivid reality.
A must read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction and is interested in the monarchy of England!
This is the second book in a series entitled `The Cousins' War', about members of the rival branches of the Plantagenets: the houses of York and Lancaster. The first book, `The White Queen' featured Elizabeth Woodville, who was married to the Yorkist King, Edward IV. `The Red Queen' is about the Lancastrian Margaret Beaufort, who became the mother of Henry Tudor (Henry VII). The House of Beaufort, of whom Margaret Beaufort was a member, was descended from John Beaufort, the legitimized son of John Gaunt (son of Edward III) and Katherine Swynford. Although the Beauforts were officially barred from inheriting the throne, they played an important role in the dynastic struggles (known as the Wars of the Roses) in fifteenth century England.
The majority of the story is narrated by Margaret and I found this irritating because I did not find Margaret particularly likeable. Margaret had a sense of her own importance from a very early age: envisaging herself as an English Joan of Arc; saving England from the Yorks and ensuring that the `rightful' Lancasters ruled. Still, it is hard not to feel some sympathy for a child married at thirteen and then a widowed mother at fourteen. Margaret's actions from then on, through two subsequent marriages, were aimed at negotiating the shoals of the ongoing wars between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians and ensuring that her son Henry was kept safe to fulfil his destiny.
The final chapters of the book, from a third person perspective, take the story to its conclusion at Bosworth in 1485. In some ways I enjoyed these chapters best: the story moves beyond Margaret and takes us beyond a personal account to the historical record.
Margaret Beaufort may not have been a particularly likeable individual, but as the mother of the founder of the Tudor dynasty, she was certainly influential.
Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her house is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her. Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin Henry VI fails to recognize her as a kindred spirit, and she is even more dismayed when he sinks into madness. Her mother mocks her plans, revealing that Margaret will always be burdened with the reputation of her father, one of the most famously incompetent English commanders in France. But worst of all for Margaret is when she discovers that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales.
Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York?s daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret charts her own way through another loveless marriage, treacherous alliances, and secret plots. She feigns loyalty to the usurper Richard III and even carries his wife?s train at her coronation.
Widowed a second time, Margaret marries the ruthless, deceitful Thomas, Lord Stanley, and her fate stands on the knife edge of his will. Gambling her life that he will support her, she then masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time?all the while knowing that her son has grown to manhood, recruited an army, and now waits for his opportunity to win the greatest prize.
In a novel of conspiracy, passion, and coldhearted ambition, number one bestselling author Philippa Gregory has brought to life the story of a proud and determined woman who believes that she alone is destined, by her piety and lineage, to shape the course of history.