Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review: The Red Queen, by Philippa Gregory

Even though I really enjoyed the story of The Red Queen, I really didn't like our main character, Margaret.

The story covers the life of Margaret Beaufort from 1453 to 1485. She is a Tudor (and she'll never let you forget it.) She spends her entire life trying to get her son to be the King of England -- sparing nothing.

As a child, Margaret believes she has a calling from God to be an Abbess. Her mother laughs because Margaret is royalty, and she will marry whomever her parents see fit. Her first marriage produces an heir, Henry Tudor, but he is never raised by his mother. His father dies, and his mother is betrothed to another man. Henry is left in the care of his uncle.

The entire time, Margaret believes she gets messages from God that tell her to do everything to make Henry the king. Even when the Yorks take over England, Margaret still vows that some day Henry will be king. She pretends to follow the Yorks, she plots and plans and cajoles people to do her bidding...even to the point of determining that some people must be killed. ALL in the name of GOD!

The societal norms at this time are just so hard to relate to. The royal lineage meant everything. The most important thing was to be in the good graces of the current rulers (which seem to change on a regular basis, and mostly in very violent confrontations.)

Margaret is extremely whiny and conceited. She has a self-important attitude that is abrasive. She spends hours each day on her knees in prayer, and therefore believes that God's will is that she do anything to make Henry the king. Funny how that works.

So, I didn't like Margaret, but I was mesmerized by the setting and the court intrigue. Also, very thankful I don't live during that time. What a mess.

I so appreciate the research that Gregory does for her books. And the fact that what she writes, even though historical, is still very entertaining. I did get confused about all the royal lineage and all the people that are mentioned. Margaret keeps track of how many steps Henry is from the throne -- and it changes so often. There's a family tree at the beginning of the book that is very helpful.

If you like reading historical fiction from this time period. The Red Queen is not to be missed. And really anything by Gregory is a must read for historical fiction fans.

Published by Simon & Schuster, 2010
ARC won (a long time ago) from Carrie @ In the Hammock Book Reviews
387 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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