The Red Queen is the second book in Philippa Gregory's trilogy 'The Cousin's War' based on the War of the Roses. In The White Queen Gregory brought the figure of Elizabeth Woodville to life and in the second book we learn about the life of Margaret Beaufort; mother of Henry Tudor and heir to the Lancastrian line often described as “ the most powerful line in Britain's history”.
Margaret Beaufort, a woman infamous throughout history for her pious and cold nature is brought to life as a cunning, scheming and unstoppable figure who will do and destroy anything to see her son on the throne of England. In the White Queen, Elizabeth Woodville is a much more personable character – determined and scheming, but likeable. Whereas, Margaret Beaufort is portrayed as cunning and someone who will stop at nothing to pursue her own dreams – that of becoming Margaret R, something she believes she is destined to become through God's own will. I found that she was much harder to connect with, however, this was perhaps due to her harsh and unthinkable upbringing – married at twelve and a mother at thirteen years of age.
I really enjoyed reading this book and found that I couldn't really put it down. I read this straight after reading The White Queen and the two books do overlap in terms of time frame, but are great to read together as the reader can see two different perspectives of events at the time. I also enjoyed reading about the figures on the such whom I knew much less about – such as the Stanley's and the Stafford's.
My only reservations about The Red Queen were that the events of the Princes in the Tower were slightly skimmed over. However, overall I thought this was a brilliant novel, well researched and which brought to life an infamous character who has perhaps been eclipsed by her more famous son and grandson.
I absolutely cannot wait to read the next installment of The Cousins War! This is historical fiction at its best.