Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Review: THE RED QUEEN by Philippa Gregory

Finally it is time for “The Red Queen”, it feels like an eternity since the first installment of Gregory’s new series The Cousins' War was released. The Red Queen officially hits US bookstores on August 3rd, UK publication date – August 19th ANZ publication date – September 1st. I enjoyed “The White Queen” and all of Gregory's other books including “The Other Queen” which I know many people did not like at all. I know that Philippa has a past of  stirring up controversy, her books are usually a hot topic of debate. One that history buffs hold strong opinions on. I am sure this one will be no different on the controversy cauldron. I personally am not one who has to have complete historical accuracy, but I do draw the line at a certain point. One thing I will never be able to forgive Gregory for is the mythical sixth finger nub she gave to Anne Boleyn in “The Other Boleyn Girl”.  Even if I cannot forgive her for that I still enjoy her books even if they can be a bit off historically sometimes.

The notoriously pious Margaret Beaufort has always been one in my book that is a known Tudor villain. Personally I think the woman was evil. She schemed and plotted her way all through the War of the Roses and came out on top. I figure she must have been smart and quick as a whip because she was one of the few people that survived the war. It was all for one great cause, her son Henry Tudor. Being the only heir left of the house of Lancaster Margaret sees her sons cause simply as put in place by God himself. God himself wanted Henry to defeat York and roar into England as the red dragon. Even in her younger years Margaret was sure she was destined to become a saint and that her "lady" sent her visions of Joan of Arc for a reason while she prayed on her “saints knees”. It was like she was supposed to be England’s version of Joan of Arc which I can not even say out loud with out huffing about it. Margaret was firm in her belief that her prayers were answered and that a higher power spoke to her and gave her a divine purpose of placing her son on the throne of England. Her only child was destined to rule England because God himself willed it. Which translated to Margaret simply as, it did not matter how many people died in her path because her way was the righteous way to the throne.

Margaret was everything I expected, nasty, conniving, cunning, cold-hearted, and as strict as a nun schoolteacher who would beat a child with a large ruler in class. Gregory nailed Margaret's personality down to the T and since the book starts with a young Margaret you can get a feel of maybe just maybe why it was she was so dang mean. I enjoyed that Gregory gave a unique reason as to why Margaret was never able to give birth again after Henry was born. Scary as it sounds poor Margaret had a hard labor and Henry was just not coming. The crazy answer hum lets see; lets toss her in a blanket over ten times to shift the baby, dumb but it worked to get Henry out at the time. The tossing must have caused damage on her already too young body. Surprisingly I did not feel bad for her very much.

My only upset which I cannot go into too much detail about, is not that Margaret and Jasper Tudor shared feelings for each other which was more like a crush. For me it was Jasper's role that did not settle well in the end. It is well worth the read just to be able to understand what I mean but I can not give away too much it just is not my style. I will say however that it was not line crossing.

4/5 enjoyed it but I was a bit disappointed in the handling of the Lost Princes of York. It seemed a little anticlimactic leading up to Margaret’s perspective of the events. I am hoping the book in the series that will be on Elizabeth of York will be the tie into for both red and white queen but...we might have to wait for Elizabeth Woodville's mother Jaquetta's appearance first. I just have a feeling Elizabeth’s story will make all of it just make more sense. Recommended to all, especially newbie’s who want to get into the War of the Roses because this one is limited to almost wholly Margaret's prospective. I have to say though I think the historical accuracy lovers might have a few issues with this read. Even with all my quips I really did enjoy the read and will continue to read the series.

FTC: Book was sent to me by publisher

PG-13 Rating Violence

The White Queen: A Novel (Hardcover)
Other Books
The Other Boleyn GirlThe Boleyn InheritanceThe Constant Princess (Boleyn)The Queen's Fool: A Novel (Boleyn)The Virgin's Lover (Boleyn)The Other Queen: A Novel

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  1. I have this book and The White Queen on my TBR list. I read all of Philippa Gregory's Tudor series, and happened to like The Other Queen.

    Great review!

  2. Thanks for the review, Lizzy...I too am a Philippa Gregory fan and I have been looking forward to this one...

  3. Kristin, I guess you and I are one of the few who did. I just loved her description of Mary it was the best I have read to date.

    Christy, right on I feel like I wait an eternity for it. I am sure you will inhale it when you gets your hands on it.

  4. Good review. I posted mine a couple of days ago. As irritated as I get at the author for her accuracy, I enjoyed this novel pretty well and didn't really have any issues with her facts.

  5. I still need to get to The White Queen but I am excited for this one too! Thanks for the review Lizzie.

  6. Kristin, I'm so glad you and the other commenters are Philippa fans! I've loved all of the books I've read by her and it wasn't until I joined the blogosphere and Goodreads that I heard bad things about her and I couldn't understand.

    Thanks for the review - I can't wait for this book!

  7. Great review! I too do not care too much about historical accuracy... especially when the story is as good as The Other Boleyn Girl.

    I just may pick this book up!

    Book ♥ Soulmates

  8. Robinbird, I just read your review and you were spot on about it. It makes me feel better knowing that nothing jumped out at you as far as the historically accuracy. I know some stuff about that period but I am no expert on it. It is a touchy era that I love to read about.

    Dolleygurl, I have to say that I enjoyed The White Queen more than I enjoyed this one. I would however recommend that when you do go for it try to read them closer together so you do not forget something from white queen.

    Almybnenr, defiantly fans here! I think my favorite book of hers was The Queens Fool and then The Constant Princess. The Other Boleyn Girl was one of my first HF reads and you can not go wrong with a first love.

    Vanessa, I have to agree as long as it is not too overboard then I love it. It was a good read but I really can not wait for Elizabeth York's story it will be the best of them, I can just feel it.

  9. I might have some issues with accuracy - I often do because I know too much! - but I hope I manage to enjoy this one anyway. =) It's coming up very soon for me.

    Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm

  10. I am a huge Phillipa Gregory fan; I am so glad to meet you!
    I am a descendant of the Plantagenet line, so I loved "The White Queen!" I can't wait to get "The Red Queen" now!

  11. Philippa Gregory's books are good reads. You aren't the first reviewer to comment on a lack of complete historical accuracy. I do hope her next books in this series tighten up the story line. I need to get my facts and time line straight before starting this series.

  12. Meghan, it is a hard one when you just have so much knowledge but I think this one is not too far off base. You might really enjoy it.

    Lisa, right on it is nice to meet you too. If you loved The White Queen you will love this one.

    Librarypat, I agree it is a good idea to lay down a time line on the war before you get going onto this one. Alison Weir has an excellent non-fiction book on the war of the roses. You might want to start there first.

  13. Hi I found your blog over at Fresh Off the Shelf. I love it! I am a new follower. I read a lot of Tudor history last year and am about to jump into it again. It is so addicting! Have a great day :)

    Danielle @

  14. Gregory certainly has a way of stiring up people's feelings but she does provide for great conversation. THanks for the review. I will certianly pick this one up. Margaret is someone I haven't read much about.

  15. Danielle, I am so glad you found me, I love the Tudor's but it has to be pretty enticing to draw me into them again.

    Jenny Girl, she does provide for great conversation, she is never a disappointment. Before this read I had not had the chance to read a book that focuses on her. For me she was always a sidling character. I would have to say read the White Queen first or like me you can forget some of the details.


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