Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Red Queen - Philippa Gregory

The Cousins' War
Book Two

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.

Title: The Red Queen
Genre: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: A Touchstone Book, Published by Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 3, 2010
Source: Received for review from publicist. Many thanks to both Loretta and Michelle from Simon & Schuster for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 4/5

Margaret Beaufort is a cold, pious, and calculating woman. She has given birth to the Lancaster heir, and knows that she will be known as the mother of the future King of England. She believes it is her destiny to bring her son, Henry to greatness. However, the York family has grasped the throne from her hands. King Henry VI has succumbed to madness, and has been locked away in the Tower. Margaret's plans for the moment have been halted. However, she never stops working towards bringing Henry closer to the throne, as rightful heir. She walks a fine line, bringing people over to her cause, yet maintaining the appearance of remaining faithfully loyal to the York family.
At first glance, Margaret has known a hard life. Her mother only sees her as a vessel to be used to bear an heir and marries her off at an exceptionally young age. She then, having fulfilled her duty, also becomes a widow. She is wrenched away from her young son after his first year, and is married off again. She at this stage in the book, is a character that I pitied. She was shipped off from one place to the next, and gained the knowledge that her mother didn't care for her. She was mocked by many as she proclaimed she had "saint's knees" from praying so much, and for having visions of Joan of Arc. As I continued reading, I found that she evolved into a very radical, and stubborn woman. The circumstances of her early years may have caused her to become more zealous, but she also grew into a disagreeable and unlikeable woman. However, she also became one of the most influential characters in this time period, as she created the rebellion that ultimately led to her son being crowned King.
I applaud Gregory's skill at weaving history with fiction. She creates a thoroughly enjoyable atmosphere with the blend of history and fiction, making the story come to life as opposed to the dryness of a textbook. I enjoyed the perspective given in this book, however, having read both The White Queen and The Red Queen, I have to say, that I found Elizabeth of York an easier character to like. Regardless, Margaret was a strong woman, and she didn't let anything get in the way of procuring the throne for her son.
All in all, this was an excellent read, and Gregory's fan are sure to love this installment in the Cousins' War. It has left me wanting to read the next book, all the more.


Ebony McKenna. said...

What I love about Philippa Gregory's books are that she shows history is not just about ambitious, blood-thirsty, warring men - there are plenty of ambitious, bloodthirsty, warring women!

Corrine said...

How true! I agree with that statement completely, Ebony! :)