The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory. Simon and Schuster, 2010.

Margaret Beaufort, the Red Queen of the title, was a driven and ambitious woman. From a young age she chafed at the restrictions her time placed on women, convinced that she was chosen by God to be the English equivalent of Joan of Arc. Her dream is to see her son, Henry, restored as the rightful King of England and eventually having everyone recognize that she is as great as she believes herself to be.

Sadly, the portrayal of this Red Queen is one-dimensional and Margaret comes across as almost a caricature, rather than a real person. Margaret was not a sympathetic person to start with, but Gregory reduces her to a woman completely blinded by her ambition. The few moments of humanity are so brief as to only emphasize the image of a cold-hearted monster.

I am a fan of historical fiction and had high hopes for this book when I saw the care Gregory took to be historically accurate. But in the end, I couldn’t bring myself to care at all about Margaret or any of the other characters. I almost quit reading two-thirds of the way through because I knew what would happen and really wasn’t interested in what else Margaret went through to achieve her ends.

For diehard fans of all things Tudor, this book is a must read. But those seeking a more subtle approach with well-rounded characterizations will likely be disappointed.

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About booksnquilts

I'm the Children's Services Coordinator for the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library in Central Virginia.
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