The Red Queen (Cousins' War Series #2)

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Overview

Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her house is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her. Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin Henry VI fails to recognize her as a kindred spirit, and she is even more dismayed when he sinks into madness. Her mother mocks her plans, revealing that Margaret will always be burdened with the reputation of her father, one of the most famously incompetent English commanders in France. ...

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The Red Queen (Cousins' War Series #2)

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Overview

Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her house is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her. Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin Henry VI fails to recognize her as a kindred spirit, and she is even more dismayed when he sinks into madness. Her mother mocks her plans, revealing that Margaret will always be burdened with the reputation of her father, one of the most famously incompetent English commanders in France. But worst of all for Margaret is when she discovers that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales.

Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York’s daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret charts her own way through another loveless marriage, treacherous alliances, and secret plots. She feigns loyalty to the usurper Richard III and even carries his wife’s train at her coronation.

Widowed a second time, Margaret marries the ruthless, deceitful Thomas, Lord Stanley, and her fate stands on the knife edge of his will. Gambling her life that he will support her, she then masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time—all the while knowing that her son has grown to manhood, recruited an army, and now waits for his opportunity to win the greatest prize.

In a novel of conspiracy, passion, and coldhearted ambition, number one bestselling author Philippa Gregory has brought to life the story of a proud and determined woman who believes that she alone is destined, by her piety and lineage, to shape the course of history.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This standalone historical novel sequel to The White Queen comes to us through the eyes of Lady Margaret Beaufort (1443-1509), mother of one king (Henry VII) and grandmother of another (Henry VIII). The eventful of her life is suggested by her marital record: Her first marriage was annulled; in her second pairing, she became first a mother and then a widow at 13, only to be married and widowed again several years later. She wed her fourth (and mercifully last) husband in what was described as a marriage of convenience, but requested and was granted an unprecedented married vow of chastity. While not at the altar or mourning, Lady Margaret was busy maneuvering in court with increasing fervor and success. The Red Queen offers a riveting portrait of a woman who refused to be cast aside.
USA Today
“Gregory returns with another sister act. The result: her best novel in years.”
Historical Novels Review
“Gregory is one of historical fiction’s superstars, and The Kingmaker’s Daughter shows why . . . providing intelligent escape, a trip through time to a dangerous past.”
From the Publisher
“Gregory returns with another sister act. The result: her best novel in years.”

“Gregory delivers another vivid and satisfying novel of court intrigue, revenge, and superstition. Gregory’s many fans as well as readers who enjoy lush, evocative writing, vividly drawn characters, and fascinating history told from a woman’s point of view will love her latest work.”

“Gregory is one of historical fiction’s superstars, and The Kingmaker’s Daughter shows why . . . providing intelligent escape, a trip through time to a dangerous past.”

“Wielding magic again in her latest War of the Roses novel … Gregory demonstrates the passion and skill that has made her the queen of English historical fiction.…Gregory portrays spirited women at odds with powerful men, endowing distant historical events with drama, and figures long dead or invented with real-life flaws and grand emotions. She makes history … come alive for readers.”

“Gregory returns with another sister act. The result: her best novel in years.”

“Gregory delivers another vivid and satisfying novel of court intrigue, revenge, and superstition. Gregory’s many fans as well as readers who enjoy lush, evocative writing, vividly drawn characters, and fascinating history told from a woman’s point of view will love her latest work.”

“Gregory is one of historical fiction’s superstars, and The Kingmaker’s Daughter shows why . . . providing intelligent escape, a trip through time to a dangerous past.”

“Wielding magic again in her latest War of the Roses novel … Gregory demonstrates the passion and skill that has made her the queen of English historical fiction.…Gregory portrays spirited women at odds with powerful men, endowing distant historical events with drama, and figures long dead or invented with real-life flaws and grand emotions. She makes history … come alive for readers.”

Publishers Weekly
Nobody does the Tudors better than Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl), so it should come as no surprise that her latest—the War of the Roses as seen through the eyes of Henry VII’s mother —is confident, colorful, convincing, and full of conflict, betrayal, and political maneuvering. Gregory gives readers Margaret Beaufort in her own words, from innocent nine-year-old to conspiring courtier who stops at nothing to see her son on England’s throne. Gregory devotees will note the difference between the supernaturally gifted Yorkist White Queen and Lancastrian Margaret, who, despite saintly aspirations, grows worldly through three marriages; a powerless widow at 13, remarried and separated from her only son by 15, it is not until she’s 29 that Margaret is ready to realize her most audacious ambitions. Gregory clones have made historical novels from a woman’s perspective far too familiar to make this seem as fresh as her earlier works. Yet, like Margaret Beaufort, Gregory puts her many imitators to shame by dint of unequalled energy, focus, and unwavering execution. (Aug.)
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly Audio
While Gregory's The White Queen told a story of the War of the Roses from the viewpoint of the House of York, her latest takes the perspective from the House of Lancaster, where Margaret Beaufort, a descendant of King Edward III, accepts her duty to marry whoever the current king chooses, bear a male child, a potential heir to the throne, and to mastermind his path to power. Bianca Amato reads with quiet earnestness and carries Margaret from the fantasies of childhood to becoming a mature woman of experience and arrogance. As in her reading of The White Queen, Amato refrains from dramatic extremes or flourishes in favor of a spare, serene, and engrossing narration. A Touchstone hardcover (Reviews, May 3). (Aug.)
USA Today
“Gregory returns with another sister act. The result: her best novel in years.”
Historical Novels Review
“Gregory is one of historical fiction’s superstars, and The Kingmaker’s Daughter shows why . . . providing intelligent escape, a trip through time to a dangerous past.”
From the Publisher
“Gregory returns with another sister act. The result: her best novel in years.”

“Gregory delivers another vivid and satisfying novel of court intrigue, revenge, and superstition. Gregory’s many fans as well as readers who enjoy lush, evocative writing, vividly drawn characters, and fascinating history told from a woman’s point of view will love her latest work.”

“Gregory is one of historical fiction’s superstars, and The Kingmaker’s Daughter shows why . . . providing intelligent escape, a trip through time to a dangerous past.”

“Wielding magic again in her latest War of the Roses novel … Gregory demonstrates the passion and skill that has made her the queen of English historical fiction.…Gregory portrays spirited women at odds with powerful men, endowing distant historical events with drama, and figures long dead or invented with real-life flaws and grand emotions. She makes history … come alive for readers.”

“Gregory returns with another sister act. The result: her best novel in years.”

“Gregory delivers another vivid and satisfying novel of court intrigue, revenge, and superstition. Gregory’s many fans as well as readers who enjoy lush, evocative writing, vividly drawn characters, and fascinating history told from a woman’s point of view will love her latest work.”

“Gregory is one of historical fiction’s superstars, and The Kingmaker’s Daughter shows why . . . providing intelligent escape, a trip through time to a dangerous past.”

“Wielding magic again in her latest War of the Roses novel … Gregory demonstrates the passion and skill that has made her the queen of English historical fiction.…Gregory portrays spirited women at odds with powerful men, endowing distant historical events with drama, and figures long dead or invented with real-life flaws and grand emotions. She makes history … come alive for readers.”

Library Journal
Margaret Beaufort is certain of one thing from a very young age: God has destined her for something great. She likens herself to Joan of Arc and longs to be a leader, a figure of importance. Unfortunately, the reality is that for much of her life she is but a pawn in others' games. She clings to the certainty that she is destined for greatness, convinced that her son by Edmund Tudor is the rightful heir to the English throne. Much of her adult life is spent planning, scheming, and looking out for chances to bring Henry Tudor to his true destiny and herself into prominence. The second entry in Gregory's new series, "The Cousins' War," presents a main character far less sympathetic than Elizabeth Woodville of The White Queen. Margaret is self-centered, self-important, and single-minded, but these qualities enable her to persist against overwhelming odds in her quest to see her son crowned king of England. VERDICT Like Gregory's other historicals, excellent characterization and a well-researched story will hold the interest of readers, especially fans of the Tudor dynasty.—Pam O'Sullivan, Coll. at Brockport Lib., SUNY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442366992
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Publication date: 7/9/2013
  • Series: Cousins' War Series , #2
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged
  • Sales rank: 814,764
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Philippa Gregory is the author of several bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. She studied history at the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. She welcomes visitors to her website, PhilippaGregory.com.

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    1. Hometown:
      Yorkshire, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 9, 1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa
    1. Education:
      B.A. in history, Sussex University, 1982; Ph.D., 18th-century popular fiction, Edinburgh, 1984
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

SEPTEMBER 1483

I go to bed uneasy, and the very next day, straight after matins, Dr Lewis comes to my rooms looking strained and anxious. At once I say I am feeling unwell, and send all my women away. We are alone in my privy chamber and I let him take a stool and sit opposite me, almost as an equal.

‘The Queen Elizabeth summoned me to sanctuary last night and she was distraught,’ he says quietly.

‘She was?’

‘She had been told that the princes were dead, and she was begging me to tell her that it was not the case.’

‘What did you say?’

‘I didn’t know what you would have me say. So I told her what everyone in the City is saying: that they are dead. That Richard had them killed either on the day of his coronation, or as he left London.’

‘And she?’

‘She was deeply shocked; she could not believe it. But, Lady Margaret, she said a terrible thing . . .’ He breaks off, as if he dare not name it.

‘Go on,’ I say but I can feel a cold shiver of dread creeping up my spine. I fear I have been betrayed. I fear that this has gone wrong.

‘She cried out at first and then she said: “At least Richard is safe”.’

‘She meant Prince Richard? The younger boy?’

‘The one they took into the Tower to keep his brother company.’

‘I know that! But what did she mean?’

‘That’s what I asked her. I asked her at once what she meant and she smiled at me in the most frightening way and said: “Doctor, if you had only two precious, rare jewels and you feared thieves, would you put your two treasures in the same box?”’

He nods at my aghast expression.

‘What does she mean?’ I repeat.

‘She wouldn’t say more. I asked her if Prince Richard was not in the Tower when the two boys were killed? She just said that I was to ask you to put your own guards into the Tower to keep her son safe. She would say nothing more. She sent me away.’

I rise from my stool. This damned woman, this witch, has been in my light ever since I was a girl, and now, at this very moment when I am using her, using her own adoring family and loyal supporters to wrench the throne from her, to destroy her sons, she may yet win, she may have done something that will spoil everything for me. How does she always do it? How is it that when she is brought so low that I can even bring myself to pray for her, she manages to turn her fortunes around? It must be witchcraft; it can only be witchcraft. Her happiness and her success have haunted my life. I know her to be in league with the devil, for sure. I wish he would take her to hell.

‘You will have to go back to her,’ I say, turning to him.

He almost looks as if he would refuse.

‘What?’ I snap.

‘Lady Margaret, I swear, I dread going to her. She is like a witch imprisoned in the cleft of a pine tree, she is like an entrapped spirit, she is like a water goddess on a frozen lake, waiting for spring. She lives in the gloom of sanctuary with the river flowing all the time beside their rooms and she listens to the babble as a counsellor. She knows things that she cannot know by earthly means. She fills me with terror. And her daughter is as bad.’

‘You will have to summon your courage,’ I say briskly. ‘Be brave, you are doing God’s work. You have to go back to her and tell her to be of stout heart. Tell her that I am certain that the princes are alive. Remind her that when we attacked the Tower we heard the guards taking them back from the door. They were alive then, why would Richard kill them now? Richard has taken the throne without killing them, why would he put them to death now? Richard is a man who does his own work and he is hundreds of miles away from them now. Tell her I will double my people in the Tower and that I swear to her, on my honour, that I will protect them. Remind her that the uprising will start next month. As soon as we defeat Richard the king, we will set the boys free. Then, when she is reassured, when she is in her first moment of relief, when you see the colour come to her face and you have convinced her – in that moment quickly ask her if she has her son Prince Richard in safety already? If she has him hidden away somewhere?’

He nods, but he is pale with fear. ‘And are they safe?’ he asks. ‘Can I truly assure her that those poor boys are safe and we will rescue them? That the rumours, even in your own household, are false? Do you know if they are they alive or dead, Lady Margaret? Can I tell their mother that they are alive and speak the truth?’

‘They are in the hands of God,’ I reply steadily. ‘As are we all. My son too. These are dangerous times, and the princes are in the hands of God.’

That night we hear news of the first uprising. It is mistimed, it comes too early. The men of Kent are marching on London, calling on the Duke of Buckingham to take the throne. The county of Sussex gets up in arms, believing they cannot delay a moment longer, and the men of Hampshire beside them rise up too, as a fire will leap from one dry woodland to another. Richard’s most loyal commander, Thomas Howard, the brand new Duke of Norfolk, marches down the west road from London, and occupies Guildford, fighting skirmishes to the west and to the east, but holding the rebels down in their own counties, and sending a desperate warning to the king: the counties of the south are up in the name of the former Queen and her imprisoned sons, the princes.

Richard, the battle-hardened leader of York, marches south at the fast speed of a York army, makes his centre of command at Lincoln, and raises troops in every county, especially from those who greeted his progress with such joy. He hears of the betrayal of the Duke of Buckingham when men come from Wales to tell him that the duke is already on the march, going north through the Welsh marches, recruiting men and clearly planning to cross at Gloucester, or perhaps Tewkesbury, to come into the heart of England with his own men and his Welsh recruits. His beloved friend, Henry Stafford, is marching out under his standard, as proudly and as bravely as once he did for Richard; only now he is marching against him.

Richard goes white with rage and he grips his right arm, his sword arm, above the elbow, as if he were shaking with rage, as if to hold it steady. ‘A man with the best cause to be true,’ he exclaims. ‘The most untrue creature living. A man who had everything he asked for. Never was a false traitor better treated; a traitor, a traitor.’

At once he sends out commissions of array to every county in England demanding their loyalty, demanding their arms and their men. This is the first and greatest crisis of his new reign. He summons them to support a York king, he demands the loyalty that they gave to his brother, which they have all promised to him. He warns those who cheered when he took the crown less than sixteen weeks ago that they must now stand by that decision, or England will fall to an unholy alliance of the false Duke of Buckingham, the witch queen, and the Tudor pretender.

It is pouring with rain, and there is a strong wind blowing hard from the north. It is unnatural weather, witch’s weather. My son must set sail now, if he is to arrive while the queen’s supporters are up, and while Buckingham is marching. But if it is so foul here, in the south of England, then I fear the weather in Brittany. He must come at exactly the right moment to catch the weary victor of the first battle and make them turn and fight again, while they are sick of fighting. But – I stand at my window and watch the rain pouring down, and the wind lashing the trees in our garden – I know he cannot set sail in this weather, the wind is howling towards the south, I cannot believe he will even be able to get out of port.

The next day the rains are worse and the river is starting to rise. It is over our landing steps at the foot of the garden and the boatmen drag the Stanley barge up the garden to the very orchard, out of the swirling flood, fearing that it will be torn from its moorings by the current. I can’t believe that Henry can set sail in this, and even if he were to get out of harbour, I can’t believe that he could safely get across the English seas to the south coast.

My web of informers, spies and plotters are stunned by the ferocity of the rain, which is like a weapon against us. The roads into London are all but impassable; no-one can get a message through. A horse and rider cannot get from London to Guildford, and as the river rises higher, there is news of flooding and drowning upstream and down. The tides are unnaturally high and every day and night the floods from the river pour down to the inrushing tide and there is a boiling surge of water which wipes out riverside houses, quays, piers and docks. Nobody can remember weather like this, a rain storm which lasts for days, and the rivers are bursting their banks all around England.

I have no-one to talk to but my God, and I cannot always hear His voice, as if the rain is blotting out His very face, and the wind blowing away His words. This is how I know for sure that it is a witch’s wind. I spend my day at the window overlooking the garden, watching the river boil over the garden wall and come up through the orchard, lap by lap, till the trees themselves seem to be stretching up to the heavy clouds for help. Whenever one of my ladies comes to my side, or Dr Lewis comes to my door, or any of the plotters in London ask for admittance, they all want to know what is happening: as if I know any more than them, when all I can hear is rain, as if I can foretell the future in the galeripped sky. But I know nothing, anything could be happening out there; a waterlogged massacre could be taking place even half a mile away, and none of us would know. We would hear no voices over the sound of the storm, no lights would show through the rain.

I spend my nights in my chapel, praying for the safety of my son and the success of our venture, and hearing no answer from God but only the steady hammer of the torrent on the roof and the whine of the wind lifting the slates above me, until I think that God Himself has been blotted from the heavens of England by the witch’s wind, and I will never hear Him again.

Finally, I get a letter from my husband at Coventry.

The king has commanded my presence and I fear he doubts me. He has sent for my son Lord Strange too, and was very dark when he learned that my son is from his home with an army of ten thousand men on the march, but my son has told nobody where he is going, and his servants only swear that he said he was raising his men for the true cause. I assure the king that my son will be marching to join us, loyal to the throne; but he has not yet arrived here at our command centre, in Coventry Castle.

Buckingham is trapped in Wales by the rising of the river Severn. Your son, I believe, will be held in port by the storm on the seas. The queen’s men will be unable to march out on the drowned roads and the Duke of Norfolk is waiting for them. I think your rebellion is over, you have been beaten by the rain and the rising of the waters. They are calling it the Duke of Buckingham’s Water and it has washed him and his ambition to hell along with your hopes. Nobody has seen a storm like this since the Queen Elizabeth called up a mist to hide her husband’s army at the battle of Barnet, or summoned snow for him at Tewkesbury. Nobody doubts she can do such a thing and most of us only hope she will stop before she washes us all away. But why? Can she be working against you now? And if so, why? Does she know, with her inner sight, what has befallen her boys and who has done it? Does she think you have done it? Is she drowning your son in revenge?

Destroy what papers you have kept, and deny whatever you have done. Richard is coming to London for his revenge and there will be a scaffold built on Tower Green. If he believes half what he has heard he will put you on it and I will be unable to save you.

Stanley.

OCTOBER 1483

I have been on my knees all night, but I don’t know if God can hear me through the hellish noise of the rain. My son sets sail from Brittany with fifteen valuable ships and an army of five thousand men and loses them all in the storm at sea. Only two ships struggle ashore on the south coast and learn at once that Buckingham has been defeated by the rising of the river, his rebellion is washed away by the waters, and Richard is waiting, dry-shod, to execute the survivors.

My son turns his back on the country that should have been his, and sails for Brittany again, flying like a faintheart, leaving me here, unprotected, and clearly guilty of plotting his rebellion. We are parted once more, my heir and I, this time without even meeting, and this time it feels as if it is for ever. He and Jasper leave me to face the king, who marches vengefully on London like an invading enemy, mad with anger. Dr Lewis vanishes off to Wales, Bishop Morton takes the first ship that can sail after the storms and goes to France, Buckingham’s men slip from the City in silence and under lowering skies, the queen’s kin make their way to Brittany and to the tattered remains of my son’s makeshift court, and my husband arrives in London in the train of King Richard, whose handsome face is dark with the sullen rage of a traitor betrayed.

‘He knows,’my husband says shortly as he comes to my room, his travelling cape still around his shoulders, his sympathy scant. ‘He knows you were working with the queen, and he will put you on trial. He has evidence from half a dozen witnesses. Rebels from Devon to East Anglia know your name and have letters from you.’

‘Husband, surely he will not.’

‘You are clearly guilty of treason and that is punishable by death.’

‘But if he thinks you are faithful . . .’

‘I am faithful,’ he corrects me. ‘It is not a matter of opinion but of fact. Not what the king thinks – but what he can see. When Buckingham rode out, while you were summoning your son to invade England, and paying rebels, while the queen was raising the southern counties, I was at his side, advising him, loaning him money, calling out my own affinity to defend him, faithful as any northerner. He trusts me now as he has never done before. My son raised an army for him.’

‘Your son’s army was for me!’ I interrupt.

‘My son will deny that, I will deny that, we will call you a liar and nobody can prove anything, either way.’

I pause. ‘Husband, you will intercede for me?’

He looks at me thoughtfully, as if the answer could be ‘no’.

‘Well, it is a consideration, Lady Margaret. My King Richard is bitter, he cannot believe that the Duke of Buckingham, his best friend, his only friend, should betray him. And you? He is astonished at your infidelity. You carried his wife’s train at her coronation, you were her friend, you welcomed her to London. He feels you have betrayed him. Unforgiveably. He thinks you as faithless as your kinsman Buckingham; and Buckingham was executed on the spot.’

‘Buckingham is dead?’

‘They took off his head in Salisbury market place. The king would not even see him. He was too angry with him and he is filled with hate towards you. You said that Queen Anne was welcome to her city, that she had been missed. You bowed the knee to him and wished him well. And then you sent out messages to every disaffected Lancastrian family in the country to tell them the cousins’ war had come again, and that this time you will win.’

I grit my teeth. ‘Should I run away? Should I go to Brittany too?’

‘My dear, how ever would you get there?’

‘I have my money chest, I have my guard. I could bribe a ship to take me, if I went down to the docks at London now, I could get away. Or Greenwich. Or I could ride to Dover or Southampton . . .’

He smiles at me and I remember they call him ‘the fox’ for his ability to survive, to double back, to escape the hounds. ‘Yes, indeed, all that might have been possible; but I am sorry to tell you, I am nominated as your gaoler, and I cannot let you escape me. King Richard has decided that all your lands and your wealth will be mine, signed over to me, despite our marriage contract. Everything you owned as a girl is mine, everything you owned as a Tudor is mine, everything you gained from your marriage to Stafford is now mine, everything you inherited from your mother is mine. My men are in your chambers now collecting your jewels, your papers and your money chest. Your men are already under arrest, and your women are locked in their rooms. Your tenants and your affinity will learn you cannot summon them; they are all mine.’

I gasp. For a moment, I cannot speak, I just look at him. ‘You have robbed me? You have taken this chance to betray me?’

‘You are to live at the house at Woking, my house now; you are not to leave the grounds. You will be served by my people, your own servants will be turned away. You will see neither ladies in waiting, servants, nor your confessor. You will meet with no-one and send no messages.’

I can hardly grasp the depth and breadth of his betrayal. He has taken everything from me. ‘It is you who betrayed me to Richard!’ I fling at him. ‘You who betrayed the whole plot. It is you, with an eye to my fortune who led me on to do this and now profit from my destruction. You told the Duke of Norfolk to go down to Guildford and suppress the rebellion in Hampshire. You told Richard to beware of the Duke of Buckingham. You told him that the queen was rising against him and I with her!’

He shakes his head. ‘No. I am not your enemy, Margaret, I have served you well as your husband. No-one else could have saved you from the traitor’s death that you deserve. This is the best deal I could get for you. I have saved you from the Tower, from the scaffold. I have saved your lands from sequestration, he could have taken them outright. I have saved you to live in my house, as my wife, in safety. And I am still placed at the heart of things, where we can learn of his plans against your son. Richard will seek to have Tudor killed now, he will send spies with orders to murder Henry. You have signed your son’s death warrant with your failure. Only I can save him. You should be grateful to me.’

I cannot think, I cannot think through this mixture of threats and promises. ‘Henry?’

‘Richard will not stop until he is dead. Only I can save him.’

‘I am to be your prisoner?’

He nods. ‘And I am to have your fortune. It is nothing between us, Margaret. Think of the safety of your son.’

‘You will let me warn Henry of his danger?’

He rises to his feet. ‘Of course. You can write to him as you wish. But all your letters are to come through me, they will be carried by my men. I have to give the appearance of controlling you completely.’

‘The appearance?’ I repeat. ‘If I know you at all, you will give the appearance of being on both sides.’

He smiles in genuine amusement. ‘Always.’

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 851 Customer Reviews
  • 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.

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  • 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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