Review: The Red Queen

They all speak of a slight girl on a big horse, a banner over her head, glimpsed where the fighting was the fiercest, a girl like a prince, sworn to bring peace and victory to her country, giving herself to the service of God, nothing more than a girl, nothing more than a girl like me: but a heroine.”

The Red Queen, Philippa Gregory

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory was published in August of 2010 and is 400 pages. Gregory is one of my favorite historical fiction authors, and it never fails to amaze me that she can continuously write about all stages of Tudor England with fresh perspective.

The Red Queen is the story of Margaret Beaufort, a young, virtuous child of the Lancaster house, obsessed with Joan of Arc, insistent from an early age that she sees visions from God, and that she is destined for holiness. When Margaret is forced into marriage at twelve years of age, and in child bed by thirteen, she reconciles herself to her new position as mother of a child third in line from the throne of England. She spends the rest of her life maneuvering, manipulating, and marrying–in the name of God–to make her son king.

I didn’t like Margaret. She was shrewd, proud, and her desire for recognition for her holiness negated it. Yet, I pulled for her. Her stubborn determination was enough to put me in her corner. Gregory showed her skill, indeed, by making me root for an unlikable heroine.

The book was a masterpiece of history, plot, and intrigue. I read it in three nights, and it kept me up way past my bedtime. Gregory fans and historical fiction fans, in general, won’t be disappointed.


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