Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Red Queen

As a child Lady Margaret Beaufort hoped to become a nun, had visions of Joan of Arc, and was thrilled to realize she had spent so much time praying that she had "saint's knees." But the heiress of the royal house of Lancaster could not be allowed to follow her own inclination; her destiny was to provide a male heir for her house, and to that end she was married off to the king's half-brother Edmund Tudor when she was just twelve, half her husband's age.  At thirteen she became a widow and a mother in short succession, and embraced a new ambition for her life: that one day her son would be king and she would be My Lady, the King's Mother.  But this vision came to seem increasingly unlikely after the house of York came to power.

I was talking to a coworker at the library about this book.  She and I were first and second on the hold list for it as soon as the library had ordered it, because we had both liked The White Queen so much, and after we finished this second one she remarked to me that she had read a lot of novels about this period, but Philippa Gregory was the first author to make her understand and sympathize with Margaret Beaufort's point of view.  So often Lady Margaret is presented as simply the Mother-In-Law From Hell.  Here she's incredibly self-centered and very narrowly focused, but you really do get why she might have been like that.  Wonderful book, and I'm very much looking forward to The White Princess now!

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