Monday, June 6, 2011

One Queen, Two Queen, Red Queen . . .

In March, I wrote about historical junk food, or more properly, my favorite guilty pleasure, historical fiction.  At that time, I was blogging about The White Queen, by Philippa Gregory, and I guessed that the only thing better could be the other side of the story.  The Red Queen, also by Gregory, is just that:  The other side of the Cousins' War.  The White Queen tells the story from the perspective of Elizabeth Woodville, who is King Edward of York's wife.  The Red Queen is the same story, as told by Margaret Beaufort, who is King Henry VIII's grandmother.

As history tells, Margaret Beaufort wins this war, and sees her son, and later, her grandson, take and hold the throne.  Margaret believes that she is guided by Joan of Arc, and that God speaks to her.  Her piety makes Margaret a hard character to like, as she is convinced that she is entitled to more than others, and is better than them, because she prays more.  Her third husband, Lord Thomas Stanley, wryly observes that God always tells her "to strive for power and wealth" and asks if she is sure it's not her own voice that she hears.  Whoever she is listening to, Margaret gets good advice.  Her best move of all was to marry Thomas Stanley.

As far as stories go, I liked the story in The White Queen better than that in The Red Queen.  Elizabeth Woodville is much more likable, which helps that story along.  I also like how The White Queen leaves certain mysteries unsolved.  The Red Queen  offers a solution to one of the key questions involving the princes in the tower, which seems like a stretch, since historians don't even agree on the answerThe Red Queen also covers decades longer than The White Queen, which is necessary in telling the story of Margaret Beaufort, but that story is not exactly action packed.  Some of my friends have also read both books, and we wondered if we preferred  The White Queen only because we read that story first.  I really don't think that's the case.

It seems that Gregory also agrees that Elizabeth Woodville is an intriguing character, as Wikipedia reports that Gregory is currently writing books about Elizabeth Woodville's daughter and mother.  As for me, I'm a little burnt out on British historical fiction for now, but I doubt I'll be able to resist Gregory's next book when it is released.

Next up on CD:  That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo.  I've started listening, and I like the tone of this one so far.

Still reading:  The Furies by John Jakes   How 'bout those 1970s?  More about this one later!

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