‘The Red Queen’ is the second of the Cousin’s war series, I read it after the third, and not before the first (oops) and I liked it better; or, my Libra-esque side is showing as I tip the other way or I’m just getting used to Gregory’s writing again? (This means I’m a flip-flopper-er). Sorry- nonsensical thoughts.
The Red Queen of course was Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VII who began the Tudor dynasty which fascinates people down to this day. Margaret was pious, studious, and crammed into every last mold of standards of medieval purity for women you could think of. Handed off like a prize mare at 12 to be married, she had her first and only child at 13, a feat that’s always made me shudder to think of. Known chiefly for her holier-than-thou, mother-in-law from hell attitude of her later years, ‘The Red Queen’ presents a simple girl with a burning passion for greatness who always felt overlooked, but at least God was always on her side! You honestly cannot argue with someone who thinks that way, and indeed, this tiny woman seems to have single-handedly kept the torch of Kingship alive for the Lancastrian side of the royal family. It almost seems like Henry triumphed over Richard the III through sheer maternal willpower.
Gregory dove deep to try to embody what kind of person she must have been, what made her that way, how she endured many years of what must have felt like defeat, and how she might have balanced the two strongest points of her personality: her faith and her lust for power.
I see now that the Cousin’s Wars series is going to present a book each from most if not each of the very strong, very different women who far from being weak and invisible, had very large presences in the lives and fortunes of their men and history itself. Well that’s a good thing! This as said was a better read for me than ‘The Lady of the Rivers’ even though the protagonist was easily a much harder subject, and perhaps the author had to try harder indeed with a character like Margaret. Jaquetta Woodville was positively a flimsy baby-making machine! Now I read book one? Still historical fiction- lite.