Book Review: The Red Queen by Phillippa Gregory

redqueenThe 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.

Set in the time of the Tudors, Margaret Beaufort is married off at an early age and is a mother by the time she is 14. A headstrong and pious woman who believes she should take inspiration from Joan of Arc and that her son is the true and only heir to the throne. She does not care for the fact that she is to “wed, bed and breed” (i.e. the only reason for her existence is to have children to perpetuate the line). She feels thwarted at every turn that people cant recognise her piety, brains and wealth but doesnt recognise that many of the faults she sees in others are also significant faults in herself.

This does cover a large swathe of English history where the houses of York and Tudor are constantly fighting to rule the country. It’s less than 400 pages long and part of a trilogy that presumably covers the same time from different angles. As a stand alone book it’s reasonable if a little lightweight. However I dont know that if the three stories were brought together in the same book that it would necessarily work better – it certainly wouldn’t be able to be written in the same voice


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