Customer Reviews for

The Red Queen (Cousins' War Series #2)

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

36 out of 45 people found this review helpful.

terrific historical biographical fiction

As a child, Margaret Beaufort felt she was destiny's darling and planed to remain pious while pushing the cause of the red Rose of Lancaster. However, her mother rudely awakens her by informing her she is a worthless chip off the old block of England's military command...
As a child, Margaret Beaufort felt she was destiny's darling and planed to remain pious while pushing the cause of the red Rose of Lancaster. However, her mother rudely awakens her by informing her she is a worthless chip off the old block of England's military commander in France; and therefore will be sent to Wales to marry some lord older than her parents. She is quickly widowed at thirteen and forced to marry again. This time she has a son, whom she names Henry after the king. To keep him safe she sends him away but pledges him to the daughter of the White Rose rival York family. Widowed and married this time to Lord Thomas and knowing her son is ready to take the throne from the usurper, Margaret executes a coup.

This is a terrific historical biographical fiction as queen of the sub-genre Philippa Gregory provides her fans with another strong female royal (see The White Queen and The Other Boleyn Girl). Filled with intrigue, murder and betrayal while occurring for the most part in the second half of the fifteenth century, Ms. Gregory focuses this time on a female dynasty maker as Margaret Beaufort proves to be the matriarch of the Tudor line.

Harriet Klausner

posted by harstan on June 19, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Dissapointing Read

I have been a huge Phillipa Gregory fan and I was deeply disappointed with The Red Queen. Although the character Margaret is accurately portrayed as unappealing and unlikeable there did not appear to a believability to the storyline which was extremely dragged out. I ...
I have been a huge Phillipa Gregory fan and I was deeply disappointed with The Red Queen. Although the character Margaret is accurately portrayed as unappealing and unlikeable there did not appear to a believability to the storyline which was extremely dragged out. I found it hard to stay interested and a bit of a lazy read.

posted by NaomiMT on August 24, 2010

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  • Posted June 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    terrific historical biographical fiction

    As a child, Margaret Beaufort felt she was destiny's darling and planed to remain pious while pushing the cause of the red Rose of Lancaster. However, her mother rudely awakens her by informing her she is a worthless chip off the old block of England's military commander in France; and therefore will be sent to Wales to marry some lord older than her parents. She is quickly widowed at thirteen and forced to marry again. This time she has a son, whom she names Henry after the king. To keep him safe she sends him away but pledges him to the daughter of the White Rose rival York family. Widowed and married this time to Lord Thomas and knowing her son is ready to take the throne from the usurper, Margaret executes a coup.

    This is a terrific historical biographical fiction as queen of the sub-genre Philippa Gregory provides her fans with another strong female royal (see The White Queen and The Other Boleyn Girl). Filled with intrigue, murder and betrayal while occurring for the most part in the second half of the fifteenth century, Ms. Gregory focuses this time on a female dynasty maker as Margaret Beaufort proves to be the matriarch of the Tudor line.

    Harriet Klausner

    36 out of 45 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Gregory tries to make the most out of an unlikeable queen

    A manic desire. A refusal to let things go. An unwavering belief in one's importance. Meet Philippa Gregory's 'The Red Queen.' Margaret Beaufort is the matriarch of England's Tudor dynasty. How she got there is a story of persistence, plotting and piety. Her tale is immersed in the blood of the War of the Roses that divided Britain for generations. Civil strife revolved around two families both claiming the right to rule - the Lancasters (the red rose) and the Yorks (the white rose). Margaret is a Lancaster who during her lifetime sees power shift multiple times. In her heart, she feels with all of her soul that the Yorks are usurpers of authority, and that only the Lancaster line has the God-given authority to rule. As a woman she cannot participate on the battlefield, but behind the scenes she relentlessly campaigns for her side. Every prayer, every thought, every moment of her life is centered on cementing the rights of her family and debilitating her enemies. She is a formidable force - maybe not as famous as her descendants Henry VIII and Elizabeth I - but certainly just as driven.

    The aspiration of Margaret's life is to see her son, Henry on the throne of England. Henry's father is Edmund Tudor thereby introducing the ultimate victor of the War of the Roses power struggle. Her son is the center of her world, even though she is separated from him for much of his life. This complete and potentially destructive devotion is similar to Halle Berry's portrayal of Alex Haley's 'Queen.' Maternal love is deeply rooted in fear, both real and imagined. Protective instincts are permanently kicked into high gear - they are constantly on alert. Imminent danger is something to be expected, without exception. Their sole purpose in life is to protect their child from danger. A child whose future will fulfill all of their hopes and dreams.

    Margaret sacrifices her entire life for her self-proclaimed royal destiny. She will not stop until she can sign her name with a flourish as Margaret R. - 'Margaret Regina.' When her first husband, Edmund Tudor dies, she falls in love with his brother, Jasper. The two resist their feelings for each other by placing the needs of Henry before their own. Instead of being happy with her gentle, peaceful second husband, Lord Stafford, she sees him as weakling who runs from conflict. He is kind to her and offers her a loving home protected from the violence of civil war. But it is still not enough, she only criticizes him for compromising with the Yorks. Her relationship with her wily third husband, Lord Stanley is based solely on strategy. The two form a partnership based on establishing her son as liege. Nothing more, nothing less - the only thing is Margaret doesn't know if she can trust him. Like Jessica Lange in 'Hush,' she does not establish any formative romantic relationships for herself, instead she focuses on potential matches for her son. She'll even have him betrothed to the daughter of her arch rival - the York queen, Elizabeth Woodville - in order to firmly establish her son's reign by uniting the families.

    Margaret's role model is Joan of Arc. As a young girl, she claims to have a vision of the girl warrior. For the remainder of her life, she compares the sanctity of her life to that of the saint. She cannot fail, God is on her side. She twists religion to suit her own needs.

    Overall, Gregory tries to make the most out of an unlikeable queen.

    25 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2011

    A real page turner.

    I find when I read her books, I research the topic myself and in doing this it's like I am actually there. Even though I know what's going to happen, I can't read it fast enough. I really enjoy her writing. She fills in the blanks that history leaves out. She paints a very interesting picture of times past. I love it.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Well written and done in good taste.

    The Red Queen by Ms. Gregory was very well done in that the characters felt real to me and the setting pulled me into the past. While the story was a bit long, the novelization of the struggle between the Yorks and Lancasters was necessarily drawn out. The number of times the throne switched hands, or important people were at risk of being killed because they were on the wrong side at the moment, was staggering. I enjoyed the way the author pulled history into this book and made it come alive.


    I found the details of Margaret's three marriages fascinating and incredibly sad. I hurt for her and wished that somehow she could have found happiness, but it wasn't meant to be. Over time she just became more bitter. She wasn't taken seriously and was seen as a means to an end, nothing more. I found the way her first husband was portrayed as a child rapist (though he was begrudgingly fulfilling his duty to have an heir,) the second as a coward, and the third as a scheming two-timer quite compelling. Each marriage had a purpose, and while Margaret suffered during each union, she learned a lot in the process.


    I appreciated that the battle scenes were not overly gross. There were plenty of disgusting details of war without being over the top. I felt bad for all of the people getting their heads chopped off as it was. I loved how the author portrayed Lady Margaret's firm conviction that it was God's will that her son Henry become king. Based on her painful life up to that point, it made sense that she would put everything she had into seeing him fulfill his destiny (which she believed was the reason he was born,) and then her suffering would be for a good reason and not just cruel luck. I found her religious zeal interesting, too. She really believed she was favored by God because she prayed all the time. It caused her to be too proud of herself, and quite arrogant.


    Of course, the Yorks felt that they were destined for the throne as well. Since King Henry had lost his mind the author made a compelling case for why fear overruled loyalty. I just felt bad for the common English person who fought for either side and the many lives lost over the right of one family or the other to rule England. This was the first book by Ms. Gregory that I've read and it won't be the last. I have The White Queen and plan to read it in the next year.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2010

    Good but don't understand why I am not able to lend it on my nook

    I just finished reading this book on my nook and loved it but I don't understand why I can't lend it when I paid for it. This does not seem fair. Also not sure if this is normal but it seems like all the older women in her book are mean and I can't help but wonder if there were not at least a few who were nice to their daughters and cared about them, even back then.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    too Slow, repetitious and a Tad Boring

    Book 2 in "The Cousin's War" trilogy

    The second book in the series brings Margaret Beaufort, the heiress to the red rose of Lancaster to life. Narrated in her words, she tells her story commencing at the tender age of nine and continues into adulthood including her three marriages. She details her bitter struggle to ensure that her son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England.

    The running theme throughout the book is Margaret's belief that she is another Joan of Arc, dedicated to her religion and loveless marriages in the pursuit of power. She feels personally abandoned by God and cheated out of her rightful position by her rivals but believes God's will is for her son Henry to lead the house of Lancaster to victory and eventually be crowned King and she will do anything to reach this goal.

    Having enjoyed previous novels on the Tudor dynasty, I was looking forward to reading the role Margaret played in the continuous struggle for power and the barbaric methods used, a time when allegiance was here today, gone tomorrow.... Ms. Gregory's simplistic prose made it easy to follow the scenes and historical figures but unfortunately the storyline pacing is slow, repetitious and a tad boring. There are too many pages describing Margaret's ego and obsession with religion to the point it is a turn off. She is depicted as a cold, ambitious and unpleasant person but she must have had a conning side to live long enough to see her son reach the highest position in the country.....Reading became tedious as the story progressed.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Don't Recommend

    I'm a History major studying to be a History teacher, and the Elizabethan era is my specialty. So one would think I would love Philippa Gregory and her historical novels, especially as the majority of them are based during that exact time. However, I've started to realize how the author really tends to vilify the historical heroines of her books. I think she really seems to dislike powerful women. Almost none of the women she writes about have endearing characteristics. In the several books in which Elizabeth I appears, she's made out to be a weak, mindless whore, completely controlled by men and unable to make any decisions without a man taking the lead and telling her what to do. And in this novel, the heroine is completely and totally unlikeable. She is narrow-minded, arrogant, and completely self-absorbed. It's hard to form any sort of attachment to her, and when you don't particularly care about the heroine, it's hard to get into the book--even as a historical novel, in which you already know the ending if you know History at all. Honestly, I couldn't even finish the book. I really did try to get into it, but I didn't enjoy a single word.

    If you want to read decent Philippa Gregory, I recommend the Wideacre trilogy. Those are her only books that I've genuinely liked. The rest of them I could take or leave, and this is probably my least favorite of hers so far.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Better than The White Queen. Loved it.

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2010

    Dissapointing Read

    I have been a huge Phillipa Gregory fan and I was deeply disappointed with The Red Queen. Although the character Margaret is accurately portrayed as unappealing and unlikeable there did not appear to a believability to the storyline which was extremely dragged out. I found it hard to stay interested and a bit of a lazy read.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An Arrogant and Self-Righteous Woman

    Instead of recapping the story, I will just say that Margaret, who becomes the Red Queen, is quite unlikeable; she is arrogant and self-righteous while believing herself to be so pious that God speaks to her directly in her prayers. Even so, her story is compelling and I enjoyed the book. If you are a Philippa Gregory fan you will find it interesting how Margaret's personality contrasts with that of Elizabeth in The White Queen.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2012

    Great!

    I loved this!! but hey you put the Tudors and the Stanleys together when P.G. is writing and well there you have it a page turner for sure!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Anoher engaging novel

    Gregory gives a counterpoint to her The White Queen in this further novel of the cousins' war. Quite engaging she brings the history alive with her detailed account which fleshes out the feelings, motivations, and roles of key historical characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2011

    I didn' t love it

    Philippa Gregory is one of my favorite authors but this is one of my least favorite of her books. I did not like the main character at all. In the Wideacre series I was completely rooting for the main character even though she was not a very nice person. Unlike the main character of his book she was exciting at least. This novel definitely lacked the romance and excitment I always enjoy in Gergory's books. The lead character was boring. If you are a Gregory fan already, read it just to see for yourself if not please do not make this the first of her novels you read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2011

    Huge Philippa Gregory fan, but this book was disappointing.

    I've read nearly all of Gregory's books and been unable to put them down, but this one was different. I found it really hard to care about the main character, which in turn made it hard to really want to push on with the book. What I love most about Gregory's other books is that she seamlessly incorporates historical facts and fiction while putting her romantic spin somewhere in the novel. Romance was completely missing and the whole book felt dark. I don't want to say this is the last time I read one of her new books, but I'm glad it takes so long for new works to be published because I need to forget about this book before I would buy anything new from her!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2010

    Well written enjoyable book but title is a misleading

    As always, for anyone who loves reading about historical royal figures and families it is hard to beat Phillipa Gregory's fictionalized accounts. Lots of wonderful detail and believable characterizations that bring their stories to life.
    I very much enjoyed this book have read many of her other books and I look forward to reading more from her in future.
    It's only shortcoming, in my opinion, is in the scope of the book.
    It felt to me as though the book ended at the point that I expected from the title that it would really be just beginning.
    This book is about the life of Margaret Beaufort who was the mother of a son who became King Henry VII of England. It encompasses her life from the time of her childhood until the fall of the house of York and the rise of the Lancasters with Henry's ascension to the throne.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2010

    I'd give this one a pass.

    I will give Gregory 2 stars for the historical research. However, I must say that I resented having to spend so much time with a women who I disliked very much. From her narrow-minded view of God to her over-developed sense of her own special nature, she was a person I would not want to spend 5 minutes with. Each time she seemed aware of another person's virtue and humanity, I would hold out hope for her. But she disappointed each time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2010

    Wish I Could Get A Refund

    It is 308 pages of whining - I had to force myself to finish it. Sorely disappointed.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 2, 2010

    not so great

    a bit interestin here and there... would not have bought it if i knew it was so slow.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    This is more like 3 1/2 stars

    This is more like 3 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed this book, but I did like The White Queen better. TWQ's, Elizabeth and the endless battles were more of a page turner for me. In this book Margaret was petty and jealous. I'm not sure how she was in real life, but she was very unlikable in this novel. I believe in karma and if Margaret was that bad, I can't believe she'd be rewarded with a Son on the throne. I wish I could really know what happened to the Princes in the Tower. I wonder if Philippa's next book in this series takes up where this one left off? If you enjoy Phillipa's books, then you will enjoy this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2014

    Another great one

    Philippa does it again. Another wonderful period piece.

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