"Life is a risk. Who knows this better than me. Who knows more surely that babies die easily, that children fall ill from the least cause, that royal blood is fatally weak, that death walks behind my family like a faithful blood hound."
Cousins' War #1 - The Lady of the Rivers
Cousins' War #2 - The White Queen
Cousins' War #3 - The Red Queen
Cousins' War #4 - The Kingmaker's Daughter
Cousins' War #5 - The White Princess
I have been a huge fan of Philippa Gregory ever since I read 'The Other Boleyn Girl' back in 2008. I read all of the Tutor novels, the Wideacre Trilogy and some of her other stand along books, and then dove into the Cousins' War series a few years later. I somehow missed that she had two recent books out and finally had the time to go back and read this one before reading 'The Taming of the Queen.'
This is the sixth book in the Cousins' War series and tells the story of Margaret Pole - daughter of George, Duke of Clarence (brother to King Edward IV and King Richard III) and Isabel Neville. She was also the cousin of Elizabeth of York (King Henry VIII's mother) and lady in waiting to Katherine of Aragon. She pretty much sat on the sideline of every major event of the time period and was constantly on guard for her family's safety after both her father and young brother were put to death for treason to the crown.
I didn't always like Margaret, but this was a really interesting book to read. She did whatever she could to remain in favor with whoever was king at the time (often at her own family's expense), but I suppose this is a direct result of constantly being in fear of being suspected of going against the King, particularly Henry VIII. After having read all of Gregory's previous novels, it gave a whole different perspective on several of the characters she wrote about. It took me awhile to get into the book, but by the time I got to the middle, I finished the rest in a few days. It was a little annoyed at some aspects of writing - especially the focusing on key historical characters before they played a significant part in history and explaining every one's relationships in the dialog, but I was usually able to see past this and cough it up to Gregory using this to allow the reader to follow the complex history spanning several decades.
One of my favorite aspects of this novel, was the unique connections to both the Cousins' War novels and the Tudor Court series. The book was able to draw so many different connections between all of the main figures in Tudor history as well as many lesser known individuals - especially women - who played a major role in England's intriguing history. It could just just as easily been written as a prequel to 'The Constant Princess' and made me want to reread all of the novels again - maybe someday!
And now onto 'The Taming of the Queen'...