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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
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Karin on 09-12-10
Good book, unsympathetic heroine
Fluidly written and wonderfully narrated, THE RED QUEEN provides an engrossing portrait of Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VII, first of the Tudor rulers. From early childhood, Margaret is enthralled by the story of Joan of Arc, and longs to emulate her in a life of piety and heroic deeds. Instead, she's married off at the age of twelve to a much older man, and gives birth at age thirteen. As she endures these tribulations, she hardens in her conviction that God has chosen her for a special destiny, and focuses all her will on the Lancaster cause and her son Henry, taken from her at an early age and awarded to a series of guardians. Unfortunately for the reader, the sorrows and tragedies of her life harden Margaret into a narrow-minded fanatic, who has little compassion or empathy for those around her. Her second husband, Henry Stafford, is a kind, gentle, and wise man who adores her and treats her with kindness and consideration, but blinded by ambition and with a heart turned to stone, she does not return his love, choosing time and again to betray him politically in favor of her Lancaster relations. The book is very interesting, and I really like the narrator, but I'm afraid I have little sympathy for Margaret, who is hopelessly self-centered, priggish, and narrow-minded. It's a compelling glimpse into a period of history that I'm not that familiar with, and Philippa Gregory's interpretation of Margaret Beaufort's character does explain many of Margaret's real-life deeds, but she is not nearly as sympathetic as the protagonist of THE WHITE QUEEN, Elizabeth Woodville. Well worth a listen if you're interested in the War of the Roses, but don't expect to like Margaret very much.
34 of 35 people found this review helpful
By Nicolle on 08-20-12
You Gotta Read It...Resign Yourself
What did you love best about The Red Queen?
It's hard to say. It wasn't a book I loved. It was -- on one hand -- KIND OF interesting to read the story from Margaret Beaufort's perspective, but on the other, it isn't a particularly sympathetic one. Because it's part of a series, you really should read it, but it's not the best of them so far.
What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)
Check it off the list. Since you know how it ends, there was no real climax.
What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?
Bianca Amato does a great job of reading a rather unimpressive book. Great affect, great interpretation...just not fantastic material.
If you could take any character from The Red Queen out to dinner, who would it be and why?
Elizabeth Woodville!! HA HA!! Sorry, but the white queen SO outshines the red one...
Any additional comments?
I love Philippa Gregory! But I have to admit that this wasn't one of her better books. I have to agree with other reviewers I read (before purchasing the book) that the events have been recounted in her other books and the perspective of Margaret Beaufort is singular (her divine duty and/or right) and uninteresting. And yet, I still assert that you have to read it as part of her Cousins War series! But don't let the worst of the reviews dissuade you...you can't NOT read it!
11 of 11 people found this review helpful