Friday Morning Bookclub

June 15, 2012

The Red Queen By Phillipa Gregory

The Red Queen was a page turner up to the very last page, or in this case the very last battle. This is the story of Margaret Beaufort, the Grandmother of Henry VIII. By the age of 5, Margaret believed that she was a “special child in the sight of God.” Margaret was obsessed with the stories she had heard about Joan of Arc and felt that like Joan she was born for greatness. By the age of 10, she knew that she wanted to be a nun and proud that she had saints’ knees.

“Saints’ knees, praise God, I have saints’ knees. I have prayed so much, and on such hard floors, that the skin of my knees is becoming hard, like the callous on the fingers of an English long bowman.”

At the age of twelve Margaret was married off to Edmund Tudor, a man twice her age. Edmund paid little attention to his young bride and wanted Margaret for only one thing, he needed an heir.  Eventually Margaret gave birth to a son, but unfortunately Edmund did not live to see the birth of his child. Although Margaret was told by her brother-in-law Jasper to name the boy Edmund, after his father, Margaret had another name in mind. She named her son Henry, a name fit for a king and was determined to do whatever was necessary to put Henry on the throne as the rightful Lancaster heir.

Margaret was not a likeable character. She was a plotter. In fact she was the ultimate manipulator. She was quick to justify her actions, no matter who was hurt or even killed in the process as in her mind it was “God’s will”.

Once again Phillipa Gregory has managed to bring history to life in the most entertaining way. The Red Queen follows Margaret as she navigates through life in an attempt to see her son crowned as the King of England. Although I have read several of Gregory’s books (the Other Boleyn Girl being one of my favorites), this is the first time I listened to one. It was like listening to a show on Masterpiece Theatre. I found The Red Queen thoroughly entertaining, but have to admit that I had to do a bit of rewinding from time to time as the story covered quite a bit of time and there were a lot of names to keep straight. This is one disadvantage of audio books and one of the reasons I tend to listen to easy, uncomplicated books!  The Red Queen is book two in the Cousin’s War Series. Book one, The White Queen, centers on Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward IV. If you like historical fiction, you will enjoy the many books by Phillipa Gregory.

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