First: An apology for being absent. I'm taking 5 classes this semester, plus a full time job, and some personal issues. I haven't had much time to breathe the past couple of weeks, let alone actually blog. Now that I have a grasp on my schedule, I hope to post twice a week if not more.
Coming up I have a fantastic give-away and review of the next installment of The Snipesville Chronicles by Annette Laing. I should be finished reading it very soon and so far it's even better than the first! Stay Tuned!
Now on to the review...
Gregory, Phillipa. The Red Queen. Simon & Schuster NY. August 2010. 382pp. ISBN1416563725
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.
I didn't know how Philippa Gregory was going to tackle a woman who was so disliked, who history has virtually ignored. This is a very cold and calculating woman with very little for the reader to sympathize with. And Gregory doesn't seem to make any effort to turn her into a sympathetic character. I appreciated that because doing so would throw away any ounce of credible historical fiction.
I found the book to be slow going at first, and much more violent than The White Queen. For those expecting it to be as romantic as the Gregory novels normally are will be disappointed. This is a woman that is too pious for something as human as love. Still, it was an interesting look at a period of time and a figure most historical fiction writers ignore. It served as a good follow up to The White Queen and I'm looking forward to the next in the trilogy.
For those interested in reading more about the war of the roses and the characters in this book, I highly recommend The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman
Rating: 3 and a quarter eyeglasses