Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)'s Reviews > The Red Queen

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
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Aug 02, 10

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Read from July 26 to 30, 2010

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 focuses 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 even more fascinating than her mother, Elizabeth Woodville or Lady Margaret. I think this third novel, since it's from Elizabeth of York's point of view, will be even more enthralling and addicting based on what we have seen from her so far. I definitely cheered for Elizabeth during her showdown with Lady Margaret.


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
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