Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Red Queen: A Book Review

This book was hauled in my April Book Haul (that was the last haul before my book buying ban … that barely lasted a month.  LOL.).  As you well know, I absolutely LOVE Philippa Gregory!  She is definitely one of my favorite authors because of the subjects that she brings to life.  I have always loved the history of English monarchies and Gregory’s Tudor Court Series, especially.  But after reading The White Queen, I completely fell in love with the dynasty that came before the Tudors.  The House of York and the House of Lancaster have completely grabbed my attention, and I think I may even be more interested in them than the Tudors!  After reading The White Queen, I knew I had to read this book next!

Title: The Red Queen
Author: Philippa Gregory
Series: The Cousins' War #2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication Date: August 3, 2010
Pages: 432
Out in Paperback?: Yes; June 7, 2011
My Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads Summary:

Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her house is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her. Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin Henry VI fails to recognize her as a kindred spirit, and she is even more dismayed when he sinks into madness. Her mother mocks her plans, revealing that Margaret will always be burdened with the reputation of her father, one of the most famously incompetent English commanders in France. But worst of all for Margaret is when she discovers that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales. Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York’s daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret charts her own way through another loveless marriage, treacherous alliances, and secret plots. She feigns loyalty to the usurper Richard III and even carries his wife’s train at her coronation.

Widowed a second time, Margaret marries the ruthless, deceitful Thomas, Lord Stanley, and her fate stands on the knife edge of his will. Gambling her life that he will support her, she then masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time—all the while knowing that her son has grown to manhood, recruited an army, and now waits for his opportunity to win the greatest prize.

In a novel of conspiracy, passion, and coldhearted ambition, number one bestselling author Philippa Gregory has brought to life the story of a proud and determined woman who believes that she alone is destined, by her piety and lineage, to shape the course of history.


I completely fell in love with the House of York, especially Elizabeth and King Edward IV and their love for one another and their many children.  I didn’t know how well reading about the enemy house, the House of Lancaster, was going to sit with me, but I ended up really enjoying this book as well!  I didn’t fall in love with the characters like I did in The White Queen; however, I did find Margaret Beaufort, the red queen, very interesting to read about.  Going into the story, I didn’t know much about her past, but she really has an interesting story that kept me wanting to read more.  Her childhood was incredibly interesting with the numerous arranged marriages, the terrible childbirth experience, and the treatment from her mother; this really made me feel for Margaret and enjoy her character a bit more, so although I didn’t love her as much as Elizabeth (which is the reason for my rating), I still really enjoyed reading about her strength and role in the Cousin’s War, especially as a woman.  I admired her courage, ambition, and drive to get what she believed in and to do absolutely anything for her son.  Some of the more minor characters, including her husbands Henry Stafford and Thomas Stanley, were also interesting to get to know.  I loved how kind Henry was to Margaret and was amazed at the plotting that was done between both Thomas and Margaret, which I found really interesting to read about.  Jasper, Margaret’s brother-in-law from her first marriage to Edmund Tudor, was an amazing character; he always supported Margaret and her son.  I also loved, though they only got a few pages in this book, reading about Elizabeth of York and Anne Neville.  Elizabeth of York is really only seen in The White Queen under her mother’s control; similarly, Anne Neville never spoke as she obeyed her father, The Kingmaker, and her husband.  I really enjoyed all of the characters and their stories and didn’t dislike any of them aside from Margaret’s mother (I couldn’t believe some of the things she said to her daughter).  Even though Margaret talked badly of my Elizabeth Woodville, I still enjoyed her story and her incredible strength to never let anyone ruin her dreams of putting son on the throne.


Starting in the 1453, the plot covers the difficult childhood of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII.  This novel covers her 4 marriages, difficult childbirth of her 1 son, and the ever-changing throne from the hands of Lancaster to the House of York.  I found the plot just as intriguing as I did with The White Queen.  I enjoyed reading about the Cousin’s War and the battles that ensued until 1485 when the novel ends.  It was especially interesting reading this right after I finished The White Queen because I was able to see the other side and view events and situations from their point of view.  This novel, I feel like more than The White Queen, focuses on the deceit and plotting in which Margaret partakes.  Overall, a very interesting plot that keeps you hooked!

Writing Style:

I have said this several times now:  I love Philippa Gregory and her writing style!  As I have mentioned before since this novel is set up like her others, I love the fact that the chapters are broken up into the seasons of each year, and at times, the exact date is given.  I don’t have that much to say (that I haven’t already said) about Gregory’s writing style, except that I love it!  Everything flows so smoothly, and it is so easy to get lost in the novel as the story just comes to life.  The description (especially of the battles scenes) is incredible as always, and I just can’t wait to read her other novels!

Have you read this book?  What did you think?  I can’t wait to pick up Gregory’s other books in this series, especially The Kingmaker’s Daughter!  I also believe her next novel will be about Elizabeth of York, Elizabeth Woodville’s daughter and the wife of Henry VII.  I can’t wait for The White Princess to come out this summer!

FTC Disclaimer:
All items mentioned were purchased by me.  This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.  No affiliate links were used.

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