Wednesday 19 January 2011

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

The Red Queen (The Cousins' War #2)
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.
description from
The Red Queen is the second book in Philippa Gregory's new series of historical novels, set during the Wars of the Roses. I finished reading The White Queen a little while ago, and was, as always, highly impressed by her storytelling ability. Having read the whole of the Tudor Court series of novels, the thing which most impresses me about her work, is her ability to breathe life and vivacity into such well known characters as Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, and to make them distinctly human and real. This was especially impressive for me, growing up around the corner from Hampton Court Palace, who had studied the Tudors literally every year of my life between the ages of six and fifteen, and thought that I knew all that there was to know about them! Gregory's huge talent is to show what is behind royalty - and to show the things that drive these women: ambition, mostly, but also desperation.
The Red Queen is the most feminist of all of Gregory's work that I have read so far. It addresses the possession of women by men even more strongly than her other novels, and for me, the power of the story lies in the strength of the female protagonists. (for more on feminism in Gregory's works, go here).
The Red Queen of the title, is Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor, later to be King Henry VII, and her struggle to ensure that her child claims the throne, and secures victory for the House of Lancaster, throughout the turbulence of the wars with their cousins, the House of York. The White Queen was about Elizabeth Woodville, of the House of York, and having read it, The Red Queen meshed together very nicely. This is usually the case with Philippa Gregory's work, as most of her novels are set in a similar period of history, and the continuity of storyline and setting is one of the reasons why I find her books so easy to read.
I loved this book, as I do so many of her novels, because it was hugely engaging and compelling, at the same time as being very informative and accurate, with events, at least. The greatest thing about this novel for me, and the reasons why I will continue reading Philippa Gregory's work, is the way that she can humanise anyone, whether they are a queen or a servant, and make you care about their story.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this book as well. I totally agree that Philippa Gregory's strength lies in the fact that she can humanize anyone :)