The Red Queen
by Philippa Gregory
Why did you choose this book? I am working my way through The Cousins’ War series
When did you read this book? September 2013
Who should read this book? fans Luanne Rice
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.
I am slowly working my way through The Cousins’ War series, Philippa Gregory’s series based on the War of Roses. The Red Queen is the second book in the series, and covers the same period in time as The White Queen. This book is told from the point of view of Margaret Beaufort, and gives the Lancaster side of the story, while The White Queen told the story of the York side of the story through the voice of Elizabeth Woodville. I really enjoyed this, and it actually made me a bit more sympathetic to some of the characters than I had been after the first book. I can better understand why the Lancasters felt they had the rights to the throne.
The book begins when Margaret is nine years old and continues until after the death of King Richard III. (I don’t think I’m giving away any spoilers here. If you know much about the War of Roses, and I admit I did NOT until this year, you already know the fates of the main characters.) Having said that, I know many people have issues the Philippa Gregory’s writing and feel she tells an alternate version of history, so don’t let this be your only source of information if you truly want to know the history of the War of Roses.
Even though I enjoyed the story, I did NOT enjoy the character of Margaret Beaufort at all. She was sanctimonious, and quick to point out she was ‘holier than though’, taking great pride in her ‘Saints knees’, calloused through hours on her knees in prayer. She fancied herself another Joan of Arc, fighting to put the rightful king, her son, on the throne. While her attittude was amusing and forgivable when she was nine years old, it was quite annoying as she continued with this attitude as an adult. She also was manipulative and willing to betray or side with whoever she thought was most likely to help her accomplish her goals, even to the point of endorsing the murder of children, if necessary. As annoying as she was though, I still found myself on her side a lot more than I’d expected. I think that is what I enjoyed most about this book; the way that it made me understand that there was more than one side to the story and more than one way to interpret the ‘facts’.
I did not like this book quite as much as I liked The White Queen, probably because I so much disliked Margaret. However I did like the book and plan to continue the series. And if you are wondering, I really don’t think it matters which of these you read first. They cover the same period of time but from different points of view.
My Rating: ★★★★ 4 Stars
You can find my review of The White Queen here.