Fluff, Historical Fiction

The Red Queen – Philippa Gregory – 7/10

“Those who laughed at my visions and doubted my vocation will call me My Lady, The King’s Mother, and I shall sign myself Margaret Regina”

Margaret Beaufort is heiress to the Lancaster house and has the iron will to rule it. Denied her greatest wish of entering an abbey, she is dispatched to a loveless marriage in Wales and undergoes an arduous childbirth aged only 13 and widowed already. Dispatched into another political marriage, she continues to fight the Lancaster cause, although her methods become more and more devious over time.

First off, Margaret is a thoroughly unlikeable person (or is at least portrayed as such), and kudos to Gregory on making a book with a conniving, devious, potentially murderous protagonist so readable. I know that there is another interpretation of her as a feminist hero, fighting tirelessly for the Lancaster cause, but I rather like Gregory’s interpretation – this is not a period of history that I know at all, apart from some post-reading Wikipedia perusals, so I can’t pretend to know whether Gregory is messing with the facts, or whether her interpretation fits everything neatly.

Plot: annoyed little girl wants to go to abbey, political marriage, battle, tragedy, childbirth ouchouchouch, another political marriage, lots of battles, all a bit boring, tragedy, Lady Margaret gets her Devious Hat On, Royal Court, intrigue, Princes in the Tower, deviousdeviousdevious, yay Lancaster. In other words, it’s all go, but the battles seem to go on for ever. I know there were lots, and they’re important, but I can’t keep all the Dukes and Warwicks and Nevilles and Blahdiblah of Yorks apart. Yo, dudes, stop fighting already.

In any case, it’s a good read (although I got a bit tired of Margaret’s constant “God means Lancaster to rule” and pseudo-piety, particularly as I’m pretty sure the whole “thou shalt not murder” thing has been around for Quite Some Time). Again, unlike The Other Boleyn Girl and like The Lady of the Rivers, there’s not so much of the romance and much more of the politics, which is to my liking.

Not a huge fan of the cover – methinks the lady doth wear too much makeup and have the scary crazy eyes.

The Lady of the Rivers is better… I think Gregory has got into her stride more, whereas The Red Queen is the first of the Cousins’ War series. I’ve got The White Queen up next and then The Women of the Cousins’ War which is the non-fiction companion.

Additional info:
This was borrowed from a friend.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 387 pages (paperback)
Order The Red Queen from Amazon*
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards giveaways.

3 thoughts on “The Red Queen – Philippa Gregory – 7/10”

  1. I know I’m almost alone here, but The Constant Princess is my favorite Gregory so far. Her historical detail may need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but they are a great intro to the Tudors.

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