Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

Title: The Red Queen
Series: The Cousins’ War (#2)
Author: Philippa Gregory
From: My Bookshelves!
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: 3rd August 2010
Links: GoodreadsAmazon

Margaret Beaufort believes that she has one purpose in life; to be the mother of a King. But when the House of Lancaster falls from the throne of England she has to rethink her plan. Life for a woman in Plantagenet England isn’t easy, and Margaret finds herself passed around in the marriage market and forced to follow the wishes of her husband. Knowing that God wills her son to be King of England gives Margaret purpose, and she will stop at nothing to make it happen.

It’s a fair while since I read The White Queen, in fact it’s a fair while since I read any Philippa Gregory book, and it was while I was unpacking my boxes of books that I came across The Red Queen and thought I should start reading it. I’m not sure if it is because of how my view of books has changed since reviewing became a big thing in my life, but I found myself looking at this Gregory book very differently.

There was something that I found odd in this book, and that was the random parts of third person narrative. There was no real indication of the change, it was only when I read those parts that I noticed. It makes sense in some ways because Margaret as a first person narrator can’t know everything, and the fact that this book is set in the English Civil Wars (not the one where we chopped the head off the King, the ones before that) meant that it was important to the story line. I just found it a bit odd though could kind of see why it was necessary.

Now Margaret…I found her a very difficult character to like, which I think may have been the point. A bit like Jane Boleyn in The Boleyn Inheritance, I think that Margaret was a character that the reader isn’t especially meant to like, more one that can be sympathised to at times. She was very convicted in her thinking and that showed through, and in ways it does seem in keeping with the Historical Woman.

For obvious reasons The Red Queen isn’t necessarily true to history (though for some things, such as the Princes in the Tower, we’ll never truly know) but Gregory is the master of managing to capture the drama and intrigue of the times, and in times such as the War of the Roses that was definitely high.

I did like that even Margaret could see that people weren’t quite black and white. Even when people did things that she thought of as against her cause (like Henry Stafford, or in fact Elizabeth Woodville to some extent) she found herself liking their company at times. It made her a more complex character as well as the characters themselves being complex.

All in all a solid read, and interesting in the way that the main character didn’t seem particularly likeable