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.
The is the second book in the "Cousins' War" Trilogy. The first book having been "The White Queen" which continues to follow the war between member of the rival branches of the Plantagenets (the houses of York and Lancaster).
The Red Queen is about the Lancastrian, Lady Margaret Beaufort, who is the mother of Henry Tudor (Henry VII). Lady Margaret is a direct descendant of John Beaufort, the legitimized son of John Gaunt (son of King Edward III) and Katherine Swynford. Although the Beauforts were officially barred from inheriting the throne, they played an important role in the dynamic struggles in 15th century England.
The story is narrated by Lady Margaret who is made out to be overly religious (in her view) and without any real redeeming qualities. It would have been nice to hear the views and the inside goings on of the other characters who were introduced but we were fully ensconced in Lady Margaret's one-track mind of making her son, Henry Tudor, King of England. She was first married at 13 and was a widow by the time she was 14. Following the birth of her son, her marriages and alliances were built to further her cause to ensure that her son Henry was kept safe and would be mentally and physically able to fulfill his destiny.
Lady Margaret may not have been a particularly likeable individual, but I also think that she acted according to her class and to that time period so was realistically portrayed. She was certainly influential as the mother and founder of the Tudor dynasty.
The pace of the book kept going nicely and I found it to be quite an enjoyable read.
Rating 3 1/2 out of 5