The Red Queen ~ Philippa Gregory
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Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Oh, lordy, Margaret is a nut! I mean this in a good, intelligent, disturbing and totally off her rocker sort of way. I think, by the end of the story, I came to see her as Blair Waldorf’s medieval counter part to Elizabeth Woodville’s Serena Van der Woodsen. Portrayed as a type-A, power hungry type and known for her obsessive piety and religious visions, the woman who would one day give birth (literally) to what we know, now, as the Tudor Dynasty is one for the history books for sure.
Born into the house of Lancaster in a time of conflict between “The Roses”, Margaret Beaufort was a young girl when she was married off and essentially forced to have “relations” with her then husband, almost twice her age (12). While this was not a terribly uncommon betrothal and activity for the time, a modern therapist or, hey, even little old me, might determine that many of Margarets strange quirks and her obsession with power and control, might have had something to do with what we essentially define as repeated statutory rape, today.
Again, while that bit of history is hard to read about, it’s well documented and was unfortunately not all that uncommon. What was uncommon, at the time, was the sense of political upheaval that had been ravaging Europe during the Hundred Years War. Right on the heels of that, began the more cutthroat and, really, less “warlike” Cousins’ War or War of the Roses. This new conflict saw a rise in the throwing away completely of all heretofore “manners” dictated on the subject of little things like regicide and fratricide. Growing up in a time of power lust, Margaret fit right in, eventually clawing her way to the tip top as the king’s mother.
It is such an interesting history to start but then, of course, Gregory weaves her magic around the existing threads of time. This is a story that runs parallel in many parts to the first book in the Cousin’s War series, The White Queen. While I found myself comparing the two stories at the beginning, it’s better, I found, to just read it as its own story as the two story tellers are just so drastically different.
I really do recommend this to those who love Gregory or even those who just love a good fun story about murder, betrayal, saints and sinners. I have been so pleased thus far with Gregory’s novels and this one is no exception.