Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Red Queen - Philippa Gregory (Cousins' War #2)

I've been trying to read Gregory's historical novels in chronological order (not necessarily publication order), but when I saw her latest on the new release shelf at the library, I couldn't help myself. The Red Queen is the story of Margaret Beaufort, a descendant of Edward III, and in line for the throne. She is born in the 1400s, in the midst of the War of the Roses, which pit the Lancasters against the Yorks. Since she was a young child, Margaret considered herself extremely devout, and idolized Joan of Arc. She longs to be a nun, but is instead married off to better the family. From her first vows, she focuses her energy on proving her superiority to others, and ensuring that she has a son and protects him until he becomes the King of England. Like many of Gregory's novels, this one is filled with treasonous plots, and calculating strategy to figure out who will win which battles and which side to align with to avoid the Tower and eventual execution. Margaret's character is absolutely infuriating. She is incredibly self-absorbed and selfish and sees things in black-and-white, with no understanding of politics - except those that seem to benefit her. I felt this novel was more simply written than some of the others I've read by Gregory - as if she's sucuumbed to her popularity and is now just pumping out books as quickly as possible without as much attention to their literary quality.

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