Author Philippa Gregory, best-known for her historical novel The Other Boleyn Girl, turns her attention back two generations in The Red Queen, giving the spotlight to Margaret Beaufort, a devout Christian who dedicated her life to putting her son, Henry VII, on the throne. Narrator Bianca Amato takes Margaret from her girlhood as an aspiring nun through her lifelong obsession with regaining the English crown for the house of Lancaster with leisurely pacing and a steady tone. Meanwhile Graeme Malcolm, who takes on narration rights for a few chapters that take place on the battlefield, offers a straightforward look at the real, human toll of medieval power plays.
Margaret was the sole heir to the house of Lancaster, which waged a 30-year war the War of the Roses against the house of York for control of England. Married at 13 to Edmund Tudor, she had one son and spent the rest of her days praying that son would become king (and, certain that she was following the will of God, making calculated moves to get him there). While the book doesn’t have the romance and scandal that characterized the reign of Margaret’s grandson, Henry VIII, it offers a sweeping look at the complicated political moves of the day and the women who wielded more influence than history would give them credit for. Gregory’s Margaret is a committed mother, a devoted Lancastrian, and a passionate Catholic, and Amato performs her story with all the requisite emotions: pain at being taken from Henry; fury at the successes of the house of York; righteous, single-minded conviction of God’s will. Amato’s voice soothing and gentle makes Margaret’s ambition seem as innocent as a mother wanting her son to ace his math exam, and that makes the last-act reveal of the lengths she’ll go in the name of God and Lancaster that much more chilling. Blythe Copeland
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.
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"Nobody does the Tudors better than Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl), so it should come as no surprise that her latest—the War of the Roses as seen through the eyes of Henry VII's mother —is confident, colorful, convincing, and full of conflict, betrayal, and political maneuvering....[L]ike Margaret Beaufort, Gregory puts her many imitators to shame by dint of unequalled energy, focus, and unwavering execution." (Publishers Weekly)
I expectantly turned on this book immediately after finishing "The White Queen," also written by Ms. Gregory. Although I listened to the entire book, doing so was a terrible chore and I only did so because I wanted to hear the conclusion of the historical story the novel was telling. The narration also raised my rating from one star to two.
The Red Queen is Margaret Beaufort, mother to the eventual Henry VII. She was always known to be a pious woman and this novel fixates (and there is no other word to use) on her constant belief in herself as being more holy than all of the other people surrounding her. Margaret is a Lancaster, married as a child to the Tudor family of Wales, giving birth to the future King Henry after the death of her first husband, then being forced by her family to marry again to serve Lancaster political needs. The book is written in such a way as the character becomes nauseatingly repetitve and self-absorbed. Perhaps Margaret Beaufort was such a person, but the contrast between Margaret and Elizabeth (from "The White Queen") is too highlighted by the author. I'm not a reader who has to be hit in the face fifty times with the theme of the book: Margaret ill-used despite how awesome and beloved by God she is.
I can only recommend this story to a person who, like me, has devoured Tudor history and wants to delve into the Plantagenant pre-cursors. It was a struggle to get through this book; a painful one.
Margaret Beaufort is one of those intriguing people whose role is pivotal in history but whose name we barely recognize. She is a descendent (although somewhat indirectly) of Edward I of England and eventually mother of the boy who became Henry VII. Of the Lancaster line, her whole life was supposedly devoted to marrying the right men, making the right allies and putting her son on the throne of England where she believed he should be instead of the one of the Yorks. The War of the Roses is a fascinating time in English history, full of intrigue, extreme ambition and violence. According to this story, she fancied herself a sort of Joan of Arc of England who was chosen by God to put the rightful king on the throne. There's some doubt in my mind that at that point the Lancaster's claim was any stronger than the York's but it all came down to who could out maneuver the other. She believed she was on God's mission but never questioned if it was truly God's work or her own ego that drove her. In short, I got bored with her self-righteous attitude and found myself disliking her intensely.
I love ms. gregory's books...that said, the woman in this book grated my nerves so bad....I really think she was a nutcase...she was whiny and miserable her whole life....and not for one minute do I think God was telling her to do the things she thinks he was telling her to do....
I am just totally addicted to these old English story's about the Kings & Queens. The story line of one family members fighting another family member to gain control of the country. The desire for power can drive a person to do terrible things. Great story with draws you into the book as if you are living within these times. WONDERFUL story.
Having just finished listening the The White Queen which I enjoyed I decided to try The Red Queen. I admit Margaret was an unsympathetic character but in many ways she had just cause, she was a child when married at 12 then giving birth at 13 which must have been traumatic although it was common practice at that time and to so rarely see her only child. her religion seems to have been her only consolation. I found this book absorbing although the reader nearly put me to sleep.
Poor Margaret Beaufort, she is portrayed as spiteful and small minded, maybe she was, but after this is imparted repeatedly it becamse boring. The historical data was nothing new and not partcularly compelling. Philippa Gregory portrays other queenly female characters in a much more sympathetic light and the comparisons are unkind and perhaps unjust. This book was boring and stopped when the Red Queens son becomes King, somewhat truncated of an ending.
Author, Consultant, Speaker
Repetitive and dragged. I found the writing used some of the same phrases repeatedly and it was irritating. Some descriptions went on too long and others left me wondering what was happening as the topic changed without as much information as I would have liked. I listened to it all but feel it could have been much shorter. On the other hand having travelled through much of the areas of England where the story is located I enjoyed the history.
I love Philippa Gregory, but listening to this was painful. Read the book instead so that you can skim over the repetitive whining of the main character.
This was a surprise to me. Some of the wording used in this made me gasp, think and than, agree. Well written & not wanting to leave the car before the end of the chapter. Thank God for the decrease in sex related themes.
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