The Red Queen (Cousins War 2)
- Phillippa Gregory
Publisher: UK – Arrow
The 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. Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth's daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty.
While this is the second of the Cousins War trilogy Phillippa has writen, there is no need to have read the first book The White Queen before. I have read The White Queen a couple of years ago and couldn’t remember much of the story at all! This story focuses on Magaret Beaufort – Henry VII mother and her struggles to place her son on the throne of England.
There is no doubt Margaret had a hard life – married young, even for that age to Edmund Tudor and not treated kindly, she almost dies in child birth. However, her devotion to her son and to god drove her to fight as a woman could for the House of Lancaster and her son’s birthright – through scheming and marriage. While I did feel some sympathy for Margaret especially at the start of the novel, I have to confess by the end I really didn’t like her as a character. She was selfish and self serving throughout, but continually claimed to be doing God’s work (which obviously means for her and her house to gain power). I never truly connected with her and her reasons for wanting the House of Lancaster to be on the throne. To me her claim to throne seemed weak and as distant as the House of York, but without the family support.
However, this remains an intriguing and complicated time of England’s history – with brother against brother, cousin against cousin and scheme over scheme to gain and keep the throne. Exploring part of this time is exciting and great fun for those of a political bent – there is no white knight verses dark knight – no good vs. evil – just plenty of shades of grey which I enjoyed immensely. For those who like some romance with their history, you won’t find much here – Margaret is a rather cold women especially to her second husband who I gained some real warmth for. Still, an interesting novel based on one of the founding matriarchs of the Tudor line.
Recommended for fans of Alison Weir and Anne O’Brien. 6 out of 10.