PBR Book Review:
This is the second book in the cousin’s war trilogy. The story is told from the perspective of Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VII and grandmother of Henry VIII. This is a period in England’s History that is marked with strife and civil unrest as the House of Lancaster and the House of York continuously plot, scheme and wage war against each other for the throne. It covers roughly the same time period as The White Queen, but it’s being told from the opposite point of view. There’s very little overlap, however it’s interesting to compare the few events that are covered in both books from the different woman’s viewpoint. Once again, Philippa Gregory brings this era to life, creates wonderful characters and immerses the reader in vivid historical detail. She maintains tension and keeps the plot moving. I always love reading about strong women and the protagonist in this book is as tough and ruthless as they come. In short I enjoyed this book a lot and couldn’t put it down at times. A great book for those who enjoy historical fiction and not to be missed by Philippa Gregory’s fans.
The Red Queen
by Philippa Gregory
Talking Points: This book truly captures the life style and emotional strife of royalty during the mid to late 1400's. The events depicted show the turncoat nature of people and the need to question the loyalty of everyone. It's fascinating and thought provoking to read about the conflicting values of Margaret Beaufort who is extremely devout, considers herself favored by God and yet is self serving and ruthless. Other interesting threads are the role of woman, the meaning of family and marriage and the sacrifices necessary to snare (and keep) the throne. Recommended for book clubs that enjoy historical fiction or enjoy books featuring strong woman.
*Author Website: http://www.philippagregory.com/
*Other Books by Same Author:”The White Queen”,”The Constant Princess”,”The Boleyn Inheritance”,”The Queen's Fool”,”The Virgin Lover”,”The Other Queen”. For more books by Philippa Gregory- visit her website.
In the beginning of The Red Queen, young Margaret Beaufort is an extremely pious young girl, happy to have "saints' knees" when she kneels too long at her prayers. Discuss the role of religion throughout Margaret's life. What does she see as God's role for her?
At the tender age of twelve, Margaret is married to Edmund Tutor and fourteen months later she bears him the son who will be the heir to the royal Lancaster family line. During the excruciating hours of labor, Margaret learns a painful truth about her mother and the way she views Margaret. Discuss the implications of what Margaret learns from her mother, and what is "the price of being a woman." (63)
How does Jasper Tudor aid Margaret in her plans for herself and her son, Henry? What does he sacrifice in order to keep Henry Tudor safe? In what ways are Jasper and Margaret alike?
After the death of Edmund Tudor, Margaret marries the wealthy Sir Henry Stafford. How is Stafford different from Edmund? Margaret laments that she is "starting to fear that my husband is worse than a coward" (p. 105). What are her reasons for this? Do you see any sense in Stafford's careful diplomacy?
On Easter of 1461, violence breaks out between the armies of Lancaster and York. This time, Sir Henry Stafford goes out to fight for Lancaster, only to witness a terrible battle. What does he understand about war and politics and why are these truths so difficult for Margaret to grasp?
Ever since she was a young girl, Margaret believed she was destined for greatness. How does her pride in her destiny manifest itself throughout the story? Identify key moments where Margaret's pride overwhelms her judgment.
n the spring of 1471, Stafford sides with York and supports Edward in his quest to take the throne of England once and for all. Do you understand Stafford's reasons for doing this? Is Margaret's rage at her husband's decision understandable?
Sir Henry Stafford suffers a mortal wound in battle. After his death, Margaret decides she must be strategic in her next marriage and so she approaches Thomas, Lord Stanley, who Jasper describes as "a specialist of the final charge" (217). What does Jasper mean by this? How is Stanley different from Stafford and what does it mean for Margaret that she decides to unite her fortunes with this man?
In April 1483, Margaret tries to enlist Stanley in helping to get her son, Henry, and Jasper back on English shores. An argument ensues between the two of them, and the ever-shrewd Stanley confronts Margaret with his view of her true nature, much to her horror (236). Do you think Stanley's assessment of her is correct? Why is this so significant?
Discuss Margaret's feelings towards the White Queen, Elizabeth Woodville. Why does she cause her so much anger? How does Margaret's view of Elizabeth change as she becomes her lady-in-waiting, and then as she actively plots with her—and against her—for the throne of England?
Once King Richard has installed himself on the throne, Margaret and Lord Stanley scheme to replace him with her son, Henry Tudor. Margaret must make the difficult decision about whether to sacrifice the two princes in the Tower for her own ambitions (271). Is there any way to justify Margaret's actions? Do you sympathize with her plight?
In the winter of 1483-84, Margaret despairs when her plans fail miserably. Under house arrest by the king, she looks back on her schemes and declares, "the sin of ambition and greed darkened our enterprise" (305). Discuss Margaret's conclusion about her behavior. Do you think she takes responsibility for her actions? What blame does she place on Elizabeth Woodville?
As the fortunes of England shift once again, Margaret finds herself playing host to the young Lady Elizabeth, the beautiful daughter of Elizabeth Woodville. Discuss the interaction between these two headstrong women. How does Lady Elizabeth treat Margaret and what does she say on page 344 that leaves Margaret stunned into silence?
Discuss the final battle scenes in The Red Queen. How does Henry Tudor, young and inexperienced, eventually gain the upper hand, and how does King Richard lose his throne, and his life?
By the end of the book, Margaret, now Margaret Regina, the King's mother, has achieved all she wanted. Do you respect her and her ideals? Do you think her achievement justifies her actions?
From the publisher:
The second book in Philippa's stunning new trilogy, The Cousins War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series - The White Queen - but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses. The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England. Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth's daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty.||