Margaret Plantagenet is born for greatness. Daughter of George, Duke of Clarence and niece to King Edward IV, she is of the
old royal family. She is destined for a great marriage, a formidable future. But after the battle of Bosworth, all hopes of a bright future are smashed and buried along with the last Plantagenet king, Richard III.
Life as a Plantagenet in a Tudor court is a very dangerous life and Margaret has to use all her wits to survive the paranoid Henry VII. The name Plantagenet is so dangerous, Margaret sees her own brother walk to the scaffold, only because he is the heir to the White Rose.
To bury her name, Henry VII marries Margaret off to his cousin, sir Richard Pole, a staunch but low Tudor supporter. It is a marriage far beneath her status, but it is a happy one. When her husband is given the office of Chamberlain of the Prince of Wales, Margaret position rises again. They move to Ludlow, where Arthur will have his own court. When the Spanish Infanta Catherine of Aragon arrives in England for her marriages to the Prince of Wales, Margaret becomes one of her ladies-in-waiting. It will cement a friendship for life. The marriage is a success, but when Arthur suddenly dies in 1502, Catherine, Margaret and the whole of England is plunged into a deep mourning.
When Margaret’s husband dies in 1504, she’s left with 5 children to feed and little income. Life has brought her very low again. She is so poor, she has to beg the king to pay for the funeral of her husband and seeks sanctuary in an abbey. Life has brought her so low, Margaret has to devote her son Reginald to the Church.
But with the death of the old Tudor king, the harsh times seems to die as well. His son, Henry VIII marries his brother’s widow Catherine of Aragon and Margaret is welcomed again at court as her chief lady-in-waiting. She is at Catherine’s side when she has at every lying-in and has to report every stillborn baby to Henry, until a healthy daughter, Mary is born. Henry rewards Margaret’s loyalty by naming her Mary’s governess and by making her a countess of Salisburry in her own name. She even gets all her family lands back. But life at the Tudor court as a pure White Rose is dangerous and more then once, Margaret has to choose where her loyalties lie. With the king, the darling son of her cousin, Elizabeth of York? With her family, the last White Roses? Or with her beloved Queen and Princess? And what with the old Tudor curse?
I really was looking forward to this new PG novel. It is a huge novel, over 600 pages, and it took me a while to finish it, but I enjoyed every single page. I did not devour it as I did with The White Queen, but it is far better than The Kingmaker’s Daughter.
I had never read anything about Margaret Pole and after finishing this novel, I am surprised I knew so little about her! What a fascinating, and devastating life she had. Being able to survive the horrible Cousin’s war, while being at the center, only to end your life at the Tudor block, it is terrible.
Margaret’s character is very interesting and complex. She is definitely shaped by her fearsome youth. She has the strong Plantagenet spirit and is very prideful to be of the old royal family, but at the same time, she is a very scared and cautious person. She is a rebel, but does everything to survive, even if that means to bury her prideful name and give a child to the Church. I waited, page after page, for Margaret to turn to the dark side, but she never did. She always calculated the risks and never rebelled in broad daylight. And sometimes, her cautiousness annoyed me a bit. I wanted her to rebel more and take a stand. But in order to survive and to not endanger her family, she does nothing but obey.
Due to the fact that Margaret was away from court quite often, most of the important events during her lifetime are told through reports and gossip and not as if you are standing on the scene. It slows the story down sometime and it makes me feel as if I am out of the story. But that is absolutely my only remark.
This is the perfect link between The cousin’s war Series and The Tudor court series. It shows how the young, glorious golden king turned into a maniac. The King’s Curse covers several decades, and the last few chapters explores the strange time between the novels The Other Boleyn girl, where Henry is still quite sane and The Boleyn inheritance, where he has gone completely bonkers.
It’s a gripping story and the end got me a bit choking. So definitely Buy that book!
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd