The second book in Philippa’s stunning new trilogy, The Cousins War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series – The White Queen – but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses. The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England. Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth’s daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty.
I started reading this book a while ago, but put it down after a few chapters, finding the heroine has a somewhat contradictory character. Not a character I could either relate or sympathize. I picked this up again last week, and this second time around, Margaret Beaufort is still not my favorite character. She thinks herself as holly and blessed by God, but is ruthless, full of pride and jealousy – especially towards Elizabeth Woodville, The White Queen. There are times when I dislike her less, and I did progress quite quickly with the book once I get understand completely what sort of character she is, but baseline Margaret Beaufort is still not a heroine you’d cheer on. She likes to pray, but especially when everyone sees her and she wants everyone to notice she’s holly. She dreams of a life in nunnery, but at the same time is obsessed with becoming a queen. And she doesn’t hesitate to order getting rid of those in the way. You get the drill.
Enough rants. As a whole, the story runs a little bit slow and boring at the first few chapters when the main character is being introduced, and the last few – when Henry Tudor is preparing war against King Richard, but overall it runs at a good pace and, having read The White Queen before, I quite enjoyed reading “the other side of the story” of The Cousins War. Not the best Philippa Gregory’s book I’ve ever read, however if you’re a fan of historical fiction or Philippa Gregory it’s still worth reading. And I’m still looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.