Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Red Queen

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 recognize 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 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 then 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 set on the greatest prize.

My Take:

Long winded alert!  I loved this book and couldn't shut up about it!  Reader beware :)  I love Philippa Gregory's books, and I always have super high expectations when I start one.  The Red Queen certainly did not disappoint me!  This is the first of Gregory's books I have read (I have not read them all--yet) that didn't really have much of a romance going.  If there had been romance, it would not have been appropriate because Margaret Beaufort was in no way a sentimental person.  I absolutely love when an author can take a person's preconceived notions about a historical character, and mix it all up.  I had a very clear image of Margaret Beaufort in my head from other books I have read on her.  She was cold, calculating, shrewd, and a bit of a villain.  As portrayed by Philippa Gregory, she was indeed cold, calculating, shrewd, and villainous, but also extraordinarily tragic.  Of course, creative license is taken by the author, so no one knows for sure many of the aspects of her personality presented in the book, but it puts the little seed into your brain in general about some of these more villainous historical figures.  It really makes a person think about what made these people tick.  Oft times these people are made out to be black and white, cut and dry and only have one aspect of personality--ambition.  There is so much behind many of these characters to fuel their ambition.  Could it be some of these people truly believed they were called of God to fulfill the positions they fought for?  Could some of these people have been treated so poorly by greedy and ambitious people when they were young that their own ambition is more of a coping mechanism?  Could some of these people have suffered from good old fashioned low self esteem and jealousy?  These questions are raised in this incredible book, The Red Queen.  Margaret is so vividly portrayed that I couldn't get enough of her.  I didn't like her by any means, she was cold and unfeeling most of the time--very much the anti heroine.  But seeing her ripped from her dreams of Nunnery as a child, forced to be a mother so young (13! even then that was young) and cruelly used as a pawn for half of her life, one can start to understand why she acted the way she did.  By the time this woman was able to have a little bit of control over her own life, she went way overboard and became what she so despised as a child-the ambitious strategist controlling others with no regard for their feelings and wishes.  The struggle of being controlled and rebelling against this control is a struggle that is commonplace and relevant even today.  I also enjoyed the fact that though she was unscrupulous in her plotting, she was one of the truest people in her time, she fought for one cause her entire life, even when it was not the popular one.  In a time when just about everyone is trying to play both sides, this is a commendable trait.  I absolutely loved this book, Philippa Gregory is a master of creating solid characters that are entirely engaging and so lifelike.  If you love history, I would rate the book a solid 1, Pay Full Price Guilt Free.  If history is not so much your thing, this book is still great because the characters are amazing, but you might want to wait for paperback :)

Do you agree with my review?  Do you think I'm totally off base?  Either way I'd love to hear from you, be sure to leave a comment and tell me how you feel!

If The Red Queen were a movie, it would likely be rated PG-PG-13 for some warfare and violence and some sexual references.

***FTC Disclosure:  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

If you are interested in purchasing The Red Queen, please consider supporting The Book Buff by purchasing from the following Amazon link, thank you!



Joan said...

Hmmm... history is not my thing, but when paperback comes out, I just might have to give it a shot. I hit these points when, every now and then, I don't want to read about a heroin, who after being pulled in various directions, eventually finds happiness and lives happily ever after. Humanizing somebody who isn't necessarily perfect, I love that in a story - every now and then. :) Thanks for the review!

Joann said...

I have alot of things about her books, so I am definitely interested in trying one of her books!

MT said...

It's neat to see your pg, etc. rating system. I appreciate it because I like a good read, minus all the R. Thanks a bunch.

noiashui said...

Philippa Gregory is my all time star writer of historical novels from the Tudor era. I've read almost all of them and can heartily recommend them if you enjoy such books.
I haven't actually read the Red Queen yet (obviously, it just came out today or something, didn't it?) but the White Queen held me in a tight grip the entire book, so I'm sure I'll enjoy the follow up just as much

Marie said...

LOL at the "long winded alert" as I had to separate out my review sort of like that too. Philippa Gregory makes me blubber all over the place.
tee hee. My review.

Tribute Books said...

Great review - I also love your rating system.

Feel free to link back to my review at: http://tributebooksreviews.blogspot.com/2010/08/philippa-gregory-red-queen-review.html

I found you on the Simon & Schuster blog tour site.

Anonymous said...

I was going back and forth about reading this, now I will. Thanks for the review.
Wanna Check Me Out?

Maeve's Momma said...

Love Phillippa g., will have to check this one out when it hits my library!

Michelle Sutton said...

I loved this book, too. Looks like we have similar taste in books. :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails