The Red Queen

The Red Queen (The Cousins' War, #2)The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Series: Book #2 of Cousins’ War Series
Publisher:  Touchstone
Release Date: August 3, 2010
Category: Historical Fiction
Setting: London
Author Website:

About this series:

Currently there are five books in this series and they document the war between the Plantagenet cousins of York, Lancaster, and Tudor. As Henry VI loses his mind, England is left in the hands of Margaret of Anjou, his French wife, but that just won’t do. England becomes divided over who should rule. This series will take you through this war torn time through the eyes of the women standing beside and behind England’s kings.  A sixth book in this series is expected in 2014.

About this book:

The Red Queen is Margaret Beaufort mother to Henry Tudor who is destined to become Henry VII King of England. However at the start of the book in 1453 she is a 10 year old girl set on living for God. Only too quickly she learns rather harshly that when you are female and born into a royal family you have only one goal in life: to breed royal boys for your family line. Margaret learns this lesson well while never giving up on her pious devotion to God.

While I would call most of Gregory’s books historical romance fiction, there isn’t much of a romance in this one unless you count Margaret’s devotion to God. She gets married – more than once in fact – but that is always in service to her family. She has aspirations and even desires of love and romance but they do not turn out for her.  I hope that later in this series we’ll see that she has found love later in life, after she has secured the throne for her son, but that feels like wishful thinking.

Margaret is not a nice woman. And as one of her husband’s point out she has been educated enough that she knows how to turn her devotion for her God to always do her will. There is a thin line between devotion to one’s cause and being obsessed with that cause. Margaret walks, stomps, and steps over that line. I don’t like her but I couldn’t put the book down like you can’t stop yourself from watching a train wreck. I wanted to see how this evil woman got so bitter. How a woman devoted to God could be so mean. Now I want to know how she responded when she got what she always said she wanted. And I think that is why Gregory is such a great historian.  This book really makes you want to understand how the human mind works. What drives a person to do what they do? While they may say it is God, the ugly truth is that it is more likely one of those pesky deadly sins:  Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, or Pride.  I believe that Margaret Beaufort was a sinner.  Read The Red Queen and see if you can pick which sins.

Learn about other books in this series:

Book #1: The White Queen

  • Published: August 18, 2009

  • This book follows the love story of Elizabeth Woodville and King Edward IV. This is historical romance fiction filled with romance, wars, and intrigue. It’s a great start to the series and will get you hooked on Gregory’s storytelling.

Book #3: The Lady of the Rivers

  • Published: October 18, 2011

  • Also part of the Gregory’s War of the Roses series, this book is about Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford.  Jacquetta is Elizabeth Woodville’s mother. And in this entry we learn her background as a descendent of Melusina, the river goddess.  If you have read the books in published order you already know some of Jacquetta’s background but this book gives her the leading character status that she deserves.

Book #4: The Kingmaker’s Daughter

  • Published: August 14, 2012

  • Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, is known as “The Kingmaker”. He helped to put Edward IV on the throne. A man with that much power has ambitions of his own, but what he doesn’t have is a son so he uses his daughters, Isabel and Anne, to secure his legacy. By the age of 14, Anne is a widow and her father is dead. Now she must make her own way.

Book #5: The White Princess

  • Published: July 23, 2013

  • Daughter of Elizabeth Woodville, Princess Elizabeth is the prize for two men. Ready for battle, Richard III and Henry VII will not only fight for the crown but they also fight for the right to marry Princess Elizabeth heiress to the York line and glue that will hold England together. Elizabeth, like so many women before, has little say in whether she will marry the man she loves or the man she has been betrothed to marry since childhood. Regardless of who wins, she will be the next Queen of England… how will she rule?

Book #6: The Last Rose

  • Published: expected 2014

  • To be announced

Additional Resources:

The Fall 2013 saw Starz launch an original mini-series based on the Cousins War series called The White Queen. Read the books first and watch the Starz series to see them come alive. I’ve watched the first eight shows and they have incorporated much of the first two books into the storyline. I’m going to have to read the rest of the book series quickly to keep pace with this TV mini-series. The Starz website has a great family tree that is filling in as the TV series moves along.