British historical fiction author Philippa Gregory crosses the line to the Lancaster side in the next installment of her Cousins' War series, The Red Queen.
The Red Queen tells the story of Margaret Beaufort, a member of the House of Lancaster and, most famously, the grandmother of Henry VIII. At the age of twelve Margaret is married to Edmund Tudor in an effort to create a royal Lancaster heir and help secure the throne. Though Edmund dies shortly into their marriage, he leaves Margaret with a son named Henry, whom she swears to put on the throne as the rightful Lancaster heir. Caught up in a dangerous civil war between the houses of Lancaster and York, Margaret must navigate ever-changing court politics and carefully plot to get her son on the throne. But in a world where the king of England is constantly changing and no line of succession is secure, Margaret must walk a thin line between loyalty and betrayal to get what she desires.
Margaret Beaufort is an interesting contrast to Elizabeth Woodville, the York Queen Gregory discussed in The White Queen. While Elizabeth clings strongly to her mother's mysticism and witch-like superstitions, Margaret is a strict religious woman, clinging to the belief that she is a British version of Joan of Arc and it is her duty, as well as God's will, that the House of Lancaster rule England through her son. Gregory's descriptions of the two women are also at completely opposite ends of the spectrum: Elizabeth is described as a tall, blonde and beautifully seductive woman who becomes involved in politics mostly through her chance meeting with Edward III, and who appears to have no real ambition of her own prior to the meeting. Margaret, however, is described as a shorter, dark-haired woman who is modest and was taught, from the earliest days of her life, that she is descended from a royal line and it is her job to fill the Lancaster cradle with sons, as well as put him on the throne as the rightful heir.
Many of the events that take place in The Red Queen where also documented in The White Queen, though this time there's a different slant to the events and some information is added — and some is removed. While it was interesting to see the same happenings in a different context from the other side, I couldn't help but think that I've read this book before, so the events weren't as new and, well, felt a tiny bit recycled.