Saturday, July 31, 2010

Review of The Red Queen

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory 
Pages: 382
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: August 3, 2010 (US)
ARC acquired through Simon & Schuster UK
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."

Imagine a cold, cunning, pious, and determined woman who will stop at nothing to get what she wants and for me, that woman is Lady Margaret Beaufort.  She was the original mean girl; ironically though, she felt that God spoke to her.  As a child she was overly religious and worshiped Joan of Arc.  She often referred to her "saint's knees" and the fact that she should be considered special since God does speak to her.  Well, Margaret's life turned out to be very extraordinary.  Her first marriage was arranged to John de la Pole, but Margaret never recognized it, because it was annulled.   Her second marriage to Edmund Tudor was also arranged at the age of thirteen.  Yikes!  Margaret was nervous and scared as any thirteen year old should be, especially because, to be honest, Edmund wasn't that nice to her.  As it turns out, she had a child, Henry Tudor, after a long and very taxing birth that ultimately scarred her for life both physically and emotionally.  She was married two more times, but had no more children.  Keep in mind her last marriage to Lord Stanley was a marriage of convenience and he was there to simply help her scheme and plot.  Since Henry is her only son and the only heir left in the House of Lancaster, she puts all of her eggs in his basket and stops at nothing to get him to the throne.  While doing all of this, she still claims it is God's will.   Philippa Gregory's second installment in the Cousins' War Trilogy, The Red Queen, is an entertaining and compelling portrayal of the infamous Lady Margaret.


Philippa Greogry's writing style is superb.  She is my one of my favorite authors of historical fiction.  She can turn the most dull history book into a magical tale of intrigue.  I devoured The White Queen, which is the first book in this trilogy and depicts Elizabeth Woodville, whom I found to be even more compelling than Lady Margaret as they are polar opposites.  I preferred Elizabeth Woodville as a narrator over Lady Margaret, because she was more passionate and mesmerizing.  I think Lady Margaret would agree with me, because after all, she spent a lot of time in the novel being very jealous of Elizabeth's looks and her good luck.  Although Gregory's story telling made me interested in Lady Margaret, I found I was too turned off by her holier than thou complex.  Unlike Lady Margaret, I found Elizabeth Woodville had that special something.  She was spellbinding, which is ironic as many thought she was a witch. One could say that is because Elizabeth was in love whereas Lady Margaret gave up her chance at love to get her son Henry to the throne.  What didn't she give up to pursue this dream?


However, Lady Margaret was gripping in her own way. I was in a state of disbelief while reading about her scheming and planning.  Her determination is astounding; in fact, she engaged in evil plotting as many feel she is to blame for the murder of the princes in the tower.  Readers cannot deny how much she gave up for her son though.  A son that she didn't even see much and was raised by her brother-in-law Jasper.  I think all of the horrid things that happened to her as a young girl, which may have made her the cold and calculating woman we have come to know.  She was used a chess piece by her mother whom she despised for her scheming and then ended up being just like her. I found all of this to be beyond interesting.  I also felt sympathetic when she had to cope with her feelings for the only person she ever loved, Jasper.  I felt bad for the many situations that she was in, but I don't think she would have had it any other way as all of these instances led her to her ultimate goal.


As in true Gregory fashion, she has intrigued me and has me waiting with bated breath for the third and final book, which I thought was going to focus on Princess Elizabeth of York, daughter of Elizabeth Woodville and betrothed to Henry Tudor.  Readers get to meet her again in this novel and I found her to be fascinating. I definitely cheered for Elizabeth during her showdown with Lady Margaret. However, according to Gregory's website, she is focusing more on Elizabeth Woodville's mother, Jacquetta, for the third book. I believe it will be entitled The Rivers Woman and is to be published in the fall of 2011.   


All in all, I found this book to be an absorbing read and fans of Gregory and The Cousins' War will not be disappointed.  After reading The Red Queen and learning more about Lady Margaret, readers will never have to wonder how the Tudor Dynasty occurred as it was Lady Margaret's vicious, deliberate, and preconceived plan from the very beginning.  She was truly an influential matriarch and despite her many downfalls, she is one to be respected.



*A big thank you to Ally at Simon and Schuster UK for giving me this opportunity to be part of the blog tour!
*Pre-order The Red Queen 

*Watch the Book Trailer:

*Philippa Gregory talks about The Red Queen:

8 comments:

  1. Excellent review! I definitely agree about Elizabeth being the much more compelling character.

    Really need to get my review of this written now lol.

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  2. Trillian- Thank you! I'm glad we agree. I can't wait to read your review. I wanted to make sure I finished mine before the US publication and my vacation. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Gosh, I dunno if I have time to start another series (so many books on the piles already) but this sounds really good!

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  4. Great review! I haven't read this one yet, but it's next on my TBR! As you know, I loved The White Queen too, and thought Elizabeth Woodville was a compelling character, so I'm wondering how I will find Margaret Beaufort!

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  5. Wonderful review Christina! Thank you!

    I haven't read The Red Queen yet, but I have it on my TBR shelf. I just read The White Queen which I found fantastic. Elizabeth Woodville is a truly compelling and interesting character, I'm truly curious to see how Margaret will fare, as of right now I don't find her a sympathetic character.

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  6. Charlotte, Leanna, and Stella- Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate it. I look forward to reading your review, Leanna!

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  7. Awesome review!! I liked Elizabeth better too :) She was so much more emotional. I have my review coming up hopefully today.

    I didn't know the next book featured Jacquetta. I 'think' that the younger Elizabeth is still getting her own book in the series eventually though, I heard it's called the White Princess.

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  8. Great review! Feel free to link back to mine at http://tributebooksreviews.blogspot.com/2010/08/philippa-gregory-red-queen-review.html

    I found you on the Simon & Schuster blog tour site :)

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