Book Review: The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

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 of England fails to recognise her as a kindred spirit, and even more when he sinks into madness. Worst of all for Margaret is discovering that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales.
Married to a man twice her age, 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 Henry on the throne of England, regardless of the cost. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty she sends Henry into exile and pledges him in marriage to the daughter of her enemy Elizabeth Woodville. She feigns loyalty to the usurper King Richard III, marries one of his faithful supporters and and masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time- all the while knowing that her son is growing to manhood, recruiting an army, his eyes on the greatest prize.
The Red Queen is the second in The Cousin's War series by Philippa Gregory. I loved The White Queen and have really looked forward to reading the next installment. The White Queen dealt with Elizabeth Woodville on the York side of the War of the Roses whereas The Red Queen focuses on Margaret Beaufort who is Lancaster through and through. Both books deal with exactly the same period of history and it is fascinating to see both sides of the same story. However we also have to remember that this isn't just a story, the events are actually true and Margaret Beaufort greatly influenced England's history by getting her son Henry on the throne who then went on to produce the infamous Henry VIII.
Margaret Beaufort believes that she is England's answer to Joan of Arc, her sole aim in life is to see her son wear the royal crown as she believes that it is his divine right to rule. The whole book sees her devising plot after plot to secure the throne; each time she puts herself, her son and her allies in danger of death as if they are discovered then they would surely be tried for treason and if found guilty would pay with their lives. I still cannot decide what I think of this woman, I understand that she believed her son should rule but she gives up and risks so much. You begin to wonder just how selfish she was, was she really fighting for her son or was it her own ambitions?
Philippa Gregory paints a wonderful picture again of this time in our history. It really must have been a very unsettling environment to live in, people were hatching plots all over the place. Margaret Beaufort has to rely on her great faith on many occasions, at one point she doesn't know if her own husband will fight on the Lancaster side or whether he will support the York King.
I've really enjoyed reading The Red Queen and it has made  me want to read more books set in this tumultuous time. I can't recommend this book enough, especially if you have read The White Queen. These are my favourite so far of Philippa Gregory's books and I hope there are many more to come.

Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of this book to review, it is in shops now.


Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Great review! I haven't read a Philippa Gregory novel yet, but I've read a lot of praise for The Red Queen, so I am very tempted to start this series. Thanks for sharing!

Dot said...

Irena- Thank you, I would highly recommend them, I enjoyed The White Queen but I think this one was even better!

Anonymous said...


I have just bought The White Queen and look forward to reading it.

I see from your list of books you have read quite a few that I have. I also have Juliet coming to me to be reviewed as well!

Just started blogging.

Dot said...

Josjottings- I hope that you enjoy Juliet and The White Queen and good luck with the blogging!

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