The second book in Philippa’s stunning new trilogy, The Cousins’ War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series – The White Queen – but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses.
The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England.
Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees to a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth’s daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Thoroughly enjoyed this book! I read this for Allthatglitters/Glitterature Book Club (yes it’s been in storage for over 10 years). I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical accounts about the medieval period and English aristocracies or romance novels. More specifically, it focuses on the life of Margaret Beaufort who was a matriarchal influence during the time England experienced several civil wars over the throne of England during the 15th century.
The character of Lady Margaret was well distinguished from Elizabeth Woodville in this series. I appreciated the way the author Philippa Gregory depicted Lady Margaret as pious, yet was able to add an ambitious tone that helped to identify the qualities that came with her transition from powerless to powerful.
Though I’m typically not a fan of first person perspective and present tense, especially in combination, surprisingly, it actually made the story and Lady Margaret’s character much more palatable. I felt this style of writing helped to ease my dislike for Lady Margaret’s self-serving agenda and hyper-spirituality which dominated her life story. The writing accurately reflected both her sharp and clever perspectives during an age of innocence which in turn, further cut into Lady Margaret’s desire to constantly prevail and succeed in achieving her title and life for her son. Also the character’s loyalty to the House of Lancaster and well-learned interests were anchored in this style of writing. And I especially enjoyed reading about Lady Margaret’s introspective thoughts when her husband Thomas Stanley puts her in her place.
Like The White Queen, I appreciated the level of historical detail and character depth that Philippa Gregory delivered.
MY FAVORITE LINES:
“What was his coward’s way out? when the doors of the church open, and I have to walk forwards and take the hand of my new husband, and stand before a priest and swear to be a wife. I feel his big hand take mine and I hear his deep voice answer the questions, where I just whisper. He pushes a heavy ring of Welsh gold on my finger, and I have to hold my fingers together like a little paw to keep it on. It is far too big for me. I look up at him, amazed that he thinks such a marriage can go ahead, when his ring is too big for my hand and I am only twelve and he is more than twice my age: a man, tempered by fighting and filled with ambition. He is a hard man from a power-seeking family. But I am still child longing for a spiritual life, praying that people will see that I am special. This is yet another of many things that nobody seems to care about but me.”
“Gwyneth looks at me. “What does it say?” she asks.
“Nothing,” I say. The lie comes to my mouth so swiftly that it must have been put there by God to help me, and therefore it does not count as a lie at all.”
“For a moment out eyes meet, but we exchange nothing except a grim determination to get this parting over, to get this exile under way, to keep this precious boy safe. I suppose that Jasper is the only man whom I have loved, perhaps he is the only man whom I will ever love. But there has never been time for words of love between us: we have spent most of our time saying good-bye.”