The King's Curse [NOOK Book]

Overview

The final novel in the Cousins’ War series, the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries, The White Queen, by #1 New York Times bestselling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory tells the fascinating story of Margaret Pole, cousin to the “White Princess,” Elizabeth of York, and lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon.

Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, ...
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The King's Curse

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Overview

The final novel in the Cousins’ War series, the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries, The White Queen, by #1 New York Times bestselling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory tells the fascinating story of Margaret Pole, cousin to the “White Princess,” Elizabeth of York, and lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon.

Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.

After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret’s world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and “holiest” woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.
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  • The King's Curse
    The King's Curse  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Few fictional lives can match the dramatic triumphs and tragedies of Margaret Pole (1473-1541), the ill-fated Countess of Salisbury. In this final volume of her acclaimed and controversial Cousins' War series, "Queen of Royal Fiction" Philippa Gregory tracks the life of a woman first thrust into contentious court battles first by birth and then by an arranged marriage. This full-bodied, 624-page novel blends the pleasures of history, romance, and fiction. (P.S. Pole was the daughter of Isabel Neville, one of the main subjects of The White Princess, the penultimate entry in this epic.)

Library Journal
★ 08/01/2014
Taking place after the Tudor victory at Bosworth in 1485, Gregory's dramatic conclusion to the "Cousins' War" (The White Queen; The White Princess) series is narrated by Margaret Pole, a member of the defeated Plantagenet family. To remain in safety, Margaret marries beneath her station to a knight in service to Henry VII. Her cousin Elizabeth finds a way to get Margaret a position in the household of the Spanish Infanta, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret happily serves until Katherine and Arthur, Henry's heir, wed. When a fatal illness strikes Arthur, Katherine's position in the royal hierarchy becomes uncertain. And when her own husband dies, Margaret is forced into seclusion. When Katherine eventually marries Henry VIII after his father's death, she is able to bring Margaret back into her service. But fortune changes quickly yet again for the two friends, and they are challenged by a monarch who has turned against them. VERDICT By employing Margaret as her narrator, Gregory offers a fresh perspective on well-known British history. This gripping and detailed chronicle, with plenty of court intrigue and politics to spice up the action, will be sure to please any historical fiction fan. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 3/13/14.]—Kristen Stewart, Pearland Lib., Brazoria Cty. Lib. Syst., TX
Publishers Weekly
07/21/2014
Gregory adds to her Cousins’ War series (after The White Princess) an illuminating portrait of historical figure Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, whose royal Plantagenet lineage was both a blessing and a curse. Gregory’s carefully researched story line begins in 1499 with Margaret in mourning for her brother Teddy, who was beheaded by King Henry VII because he was a rival for the throne. Margaret has already been “stuffed into obscurity,” married to an ordinary knight with whom she’s had five children. When Prince Arthur, the King’s son and heir, marries Katherine of Aragon, Margaret becomes lady-in-waiting to the Spanish princess. When Arthur dies, Margaret loses her position; not long afterward, she is widowed and struggles financially. Matters temporarily improve for Margaret with the ascension of the new king, Henry VIII, who appoints Margaret governess to his daughter Mary. But the moody and volatile ruler also forces Margaret and her family to jockey for favor at court. Gregory moves confidently through a tangle of intrigue, revenge, and tyranny toward a shocking betrayal that brings Margaret face-to-face with the king’s ire. Agent: Anthony Mason. (Sept.)
Booklist
“Nobody does dynastic history like Gregory.”
From the Publisher
“Margaret’s story is shocking, deeply moving and offers an alternative view on a much-told tale. Gregory is on form here; her depiction of Henry VIII’s transformation from indulged golden boy to sinister tyrant is perfectly pitched and seems more horrific still when we are made intimate witnesses to the devastation of Margaret’s family. . . . I defy anyone to remain dry-eyed as the story reaches its tragic denouement.”—The Sunday Express (UK)

“[A] gripping and detailed chronicle, with plenty of court intrigue and politics to spice up the action . . . . Highly recommended.” Library Journal (starred review)

on The White Princess People Magazine
"Loyalties are torn, paranoia festers and you can almost hear the bray of royal trumpets as the period springs to life. It’s a bloody irresistible read."
on The White Princess USA Today
"Bring on the blood, sex and tears! . . . You name it, it's all here."
on The White Princess The Washington Post
"The White Princess features one of the more intriguing theories about the possible fate of the princes."
Redbook
“Sexy…Scandalous…Smart.”
Associated Press Staff
“There's no question that she is the best at what she does.”
Time
“Philippa Gregory turns real-life historical royalty into royally entertaining novels.”
Entertainment Weekly
“If only grade-school history books were written so vividly.”
The Boston Globe
“In thoroughly researched, wonderfully realized settings, she can make a period come alive.”
People Magazine
"Loyalties are torn, paranoia festers and you can almost hear the bray of royal trumpets as the period springs to life. It’s a bloody irresistible read."
USA Today
“The queen of royal fiction.”
New York Daily News
"Gorgeous fun."
The Washington Post
"The White Princess features one of the more intriguing theories about the possible fate of the princes."
New York Post
“Gregory ... always delivers the goods.”
Kirkus Reviews
2014-07-31
In the sixth of Gregory's Cousins' War series, the last Plantagenets wage a losing and mostly subterranean battle against the unscrupulous Tudor upstarts. Lady Margaret Pole, the principal of this installment, is cousin to many Plantagenet heirs of the house of York, including Elizabeth (The White Princess, 2013), who married Henry VII, the Tudor conqueror, after he deposed their uncle, Richard III. Elizabeth and her mother, a reputed sorceress, called down a curse upon the Tudors: that they would be unable to produce a healthy male heir and their line would die out in three generations, ending with a virgin queen. As we all know, that came true. However, somehow Gregory manages to keep us in suspense as to what will befall her characters. Lady Margaret, married to a lowly knight as Henry VII punishes the Yorks, is named guardian to the Prince of Wales, Arthur, in his Welsh castle. Arthur is clearly in love with his new wife, the Spanish infanta, Katherine of Aragon. But was the marriage consummated? This question, to which only Arthur, Katherine and Margaret know the answer, will trigger the tumult that follows. In deference to Arthur's dying wish, Katherine marries his younger brother, Henry. As king, Henry magnanimously restores the Yorks, including Margaret, to their former lands and titles: She is now Countess of Salisbury and the richest woman in England. But as previous volumes predicted, the wheel of fortune keeps turning, particularly when a loose cannon like Henry rules. Ominously, Buckingham, the most powerful York next to Margaret, is executed for allegedly mentioning the curse. Then Wolsey falls. As the juggernaut of Anne Boleyn threatens to upend the English court; destroy Queen Katherine and Henry's sole legitimate heir, Princess Mary; cause countless executions; change a national religion and civilization as they knew it, Margaret and the Yorks soldier on. It would be a spoiler to recount what happens next although we already know. Under Gregory's spell, we keep hoping history won't repeat itself.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451626162
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 9/9/2014
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 142
  • File size: 6 MB

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. Her Cousins’ War novels are the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries The White Queen. 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

The King’s Curse

In the moment of waking I am innocent, my conscience clear of any wrongdoing. In that first dazed moment, as my eyes open, I have no thoughts; I am only a smooth-skinned, tightly muscled young body, a woman of twenty-six, slowly waking with joy to life. I have no sense of my immortal soul, I have no sense of sin or guilt. I am so deliciously, lazily sleepy that I hardly know who I am.

Slowly, I open my eyes and realize that the light coming through the shutters means that it is late in the morning. As I stretch out, luxuriously, like a waking cat, I remember that I was exhausted when I fell asleep and now I feel rested and well. And then, all in a moment, as if reality had suddenly tumbled down on my head like glossy-sealed denouncements from a high shelf, I remember that I am not well, that nothing is well, that this is the morning I hoped would never come; for this morning I cannot deny my deadly name: I am the heir of royal blood, and my brother—guilty as I am guilty—is dead.

My husband, sitting on the side of my bed, is fully dressed in his red velvet waistcoat, his jacket making him bulky and wide, his gold chain of office as chamberlain to the Prince of Wales splayed over his broad chest. Slowly, I realize he has been waiting for me to wake, his face crumpled with worry. “Margaret?”

“Don’t say anything,” I snap like a child, as if stopping the words will delay the facts, and I turn away from him into the pillow.

“You must be brave,” he says hopelessly. He pats my shoulder as if I were a sick hound puppy. “You must be brave.”

I don’t dare to shrug him off. He is my husband, I dare not offend him. He is my only refuge. I am buried in him, my name hidden in his. I am cut off from my title as sharply as if my name had been beheaded and rolled away into a basket.

Mine is the most dangerous name in England: Plantagenet, and once I carried it proudly, like a crown. Once I was Margaret Plantagenet of York, niece of two kings, the brothers Edward IV and Richard III, and the third brother was my father, George, Duke of Clarence. My mother was the wealthiest woman in England and the daughter of a man so great that they called him “Kingmaker.” My brother, Teddy, was named by our uncle, King Richard, as heir to the throne of England, and between us—Teddy and me—we commanded the love and the loyalty of half the kingdom. We were the noble Warwick orphans, saved from fate, snatched from the witchy grip of the white queen, raised in the royal nursery at Middleham Castle by Queen Anne herself, and nothing, nothing in the world was too good or too rich or too rare for us.

But when King Richard was killed, we went overnight from being the heirs to the throne to becoming pretenders, survivors of the old royal family, while a usurper took the throne. What should be done with the York princesses? What should be done with the Warwick heirs? The Tudors, mother and son, had the answer prepared. We would all be married into obscurity, wedded to shadows, hidden in wedlock. So now I am safe, cut down by degrees, until I am small enough to conceal under a poor knight’s name in a little manor in the middle of England where land is cheap and there is nobody who would ride into battle for the promise of my smile at the cry of “À Warwick!”.

I am Lady Pole. Not a princess, not a duchess, not even a countess, just the wife of a humble knight, stuffed into obscurity like an embroidered emblem into a forgotten clothes chest. Margaret Pole, young pregnant wife to Sir Richard Pole, and I have already given him three children, two of them boys. One is Henry, named sycophantically for the new king, Henry VII, and one is Arthur, named ingratiatingly for his son Prince Arthur, and I have a daughter, Ursula. I was allowed to call a mere girl whatever I wanted, so I named her for a saint who chose death rather than be married to a stranger and forced to take his name. I doubt that anyone has observed this small rebellion of mine; I certainly hope not.

But my brother could not be rechristened by marriage. Whoever he married, however lowly she was, she could not change his name as my husband has changed mine. He would still hold the title Earl of Warwick, he would still answer to Edward Plantagenet, he would still be the true heir to the throne of England. When they raised his standard (and someone, sooner or later, was bound to raise his standard) half of England would turn out just for that haunting flicker of white embroidery, the white rose. That is what they call him: “the White Rose.”

So since they could not take his name from him, they took his fortune and his lands. Then they took his liberty, packing him away like a forgotten banner, among other worthless things, into the Tower of London, among traitors and debtors and fools. But though he had no servants, no lands, no castle, no education, still my brother had his name, my name. Still Teddy had his title, my grandfather’s title. Still he was Earl of Warwick, the White Rose, heir to the Plantagenet throne, a living constant reproach to the Tudors, who captured that throne and now call it their own. They took him into the darkness when he was a little boy of eleven and they did not bring him out until he was a man of twenty-four. He had not felt meadow grass under his feet for thirteen years. Then he walked out of the Tower, perhaps enjoying the smell of the rain on the wet earth, perhaps listening to the seagulls crying over the river, perhaps hearing beyond the high walls of the Tower the shouts and laughter of free men, free Englishmen, his subjects. With a guard on either side of him, he walked across the drawbridge and up to Tower Hill, knelt before the block, and put his head down as if he deserved to die, as if he were willing to die; and they beheaded him.

That happened yesterday. Just yesterday. It rained all day. There was a tremendous storm, as if the sky was raging against cruelty, rain pouring down like grief, so that when they told me, as I stood beside my cousin the queen in her beautifully appointed rooms, we closed the shutters against the darkness as if we did not want to see the rain that on Tower Hill was washing blood into the gutter, my brother’s blood, my blood, royal blood.

“Try to be brave,” my husband murmurs again. “Think of the baby. Try not to be afraid.”

“I’m not afraid.” I twist my head to speak over my shoulder. “I don’t have to try to be brave. I have nothing to fear. I know that I am safe with you.”

He hesitates. He does not want to remind me that perhaps I do still have something to fear. Perhaps even his lowly estate is not humble enough to keep me safe. “I meant, try not to show your grief . . .”

“Why not?” It comes out as a childish wail. “Why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t I grieve? My brother, my only brother, is dead! Beheaded like a traitor when he was innocent as a child. Why should I not grieve?”

“Because they won’t like it,” he says simply.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2014

    Interesting but repetive

    I have read all of Greggory's novels and The King's Curse entertains as the others did. However, it did feel like a retelling of the same story we have already read several times before. Margaret Pole is certainly offers her own perspective as the protagonist, but I felt like these historical events have already done to death by Greggory. Nothing has ever quite matched up to The Other Boleyn Girl.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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