a99kitten's Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

I just finished the book, The Red Queen, by Philippa Gregory. Before it, I read her other book, The White Queen. And no, it was not about the Hellfire Club :)

To be honest, I have not read too, too much about the War of the Roses (no, not Michael Douglas…) or the Plantagenets. I started most of my English history reading with Henry VIII (after anything Arthurian of course.) And all of the reading I did was purely historical (well, as historically accurate as one can hope it to be since I am a firm believer that history is written by the victor and the loser and it’s up to the readers to see the middle.)

I have to say – I am sucked in. I was recently drawn back into my love of all things English by watching The Tudors. This is a fantastically well-done show on Showtime. This past season was its last and that is very sad. Like all really good shows on TV, it will be off the air while pure crap like Jersey Shore and The Bachelor is on. But I digress…You could also argue that Henry only had so many wives to off :) And they have taken some historical license with battles, members of the court living or dying, etc so I’m sure there was only so much they could do to keep it kinda-sorta historical but also intriguing and believable.

So now that I am watching this final season, knowing more about the stories behind his family, I find myself even more intrigued. Like, his standard (of the House of Tudor) is a red and white rose. Made after the joining of the houses of York and Lancaster. I also brought down an old book from my bookshelf “Kingdoms of Europe” that I have had for years and years, having been enthralled with English and European history since I was a kid (baaaaack when they were great countries and not Socialist messes) and will be pouring through it again now. I even found my old handwritten notes in it. Funny. I seem to have always loved the pink post-it note.

Philipa Gregory also wrote The Other Boleyn Girl. I have not read the book ( just bought it as my next one though), but did see and enjoy the movie even though I don’t think Scarlett Johannson was cast correctly in that role. They cast Eric Bana as Henry VIII. I love Eric Bana. Ever since I saw him in Troy (another great period movie IMO) and loved him more than Brad (WHA?) I have seen all of his movies I think. But they made him a very noble and likable king who was just in a bad situation making bad decisions. Yeah. I am thinking this is not historically accurate. But whatever. I will read the book now and see if Hollywood took license with it or if this author is simply more of a Lancasterian and very kind to Henry. Although, even Henry Tudor in The Tudors is very likable. Although you can clearly see how he is son of a bitch and goes kooky sometimes. All that damn in-breeding the royals do…

I will have to say that after reading these 2 books, I am more of a Yorkist. By far. The author does not claim them to be 100% historically accurate or anything but the general facts of the people and places are there and then she takes license with what facts are now known. And the “Red Queen”, Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, is a first class self-serving, jealous bee-yotch dressed up in holy piety. She is called the Red Queen because the House of Lancaster had a red rose as their standard.

The “White Queen” is Elizabeth of York (white because the York standard was a white rose.) The wife of King Edward IV. She is a bit wacky too. And quite selfish. But she is definitely more loving and cares for her family. Her entire family. And wants England to be peaceful and successful. Margaret’s only goal is for her son to be on the throne because she has seen herself as some Joan of Arc type who must serve God like Joan did…but does it by plotting and murdering and getting her son on the throne no matter what as he “deserves” it because she has suffered for it. And even though England is at peace and prosperous and people are happy with King Edward (or later King Richard) on the throne, she doesn’t care. Her son MUST be on the throne no matter what. Clearly a very pious and selfless woman.

I think the author does a good job of writing these 2 very powerful women from a time where women were treated as property. Margaret has to get permission to read books. Nice. Women were only good for birthing sons. And yet, like Guinevere, it seems they control and cause to be so much more.

If you are looking for a good book – start with The White Queen. It’s a bit slow to start, and keeping all of the different people (and their loyalties) straight can be a bit of a challenge but a worthwhile one. And once it gets going, it’s involving. Same with The Red Queen. Starts off a bit slow, but you luckily more familiar with the characters now, but then gets going. They are basically the same (ish) story, from different points of view. And that’s really what history is anyway right?! In my opinion…


  1. feloniousrazor
    6:19 am on February 14th, 2011

    Now you need to travel to the actual sites to gain an even better perspective or gain an invite to the royal wedding. On second thought, Wolf Hall was a fun fictional read about Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power as Henry VIII’s adviser.

    Wait…has this turned into Oprah’s book club?!?

  2. I would love to! I completely loved going to the Tower of London and seeing Buckingham Palace. But the friend I was there with had zero interest in that stuff (we did have however get to the original Hard Rock for lunch as a must stop…*sigh and shakes head*) so I didn’t get to see as much of the historical sites as I wanted. Let alone all of the other places. That is definitely a trip I want to make. I love going places where you look around and realize these places/things are many hundreds and even thousands of years old. America is such a wee-young country :)

    Oh, that’s what that book is about? Amazon recommended it to me and I of course loved the title :) Cromwell is a GREAT character on The Tudors and political and religious power plays are always great reads. I shall add it to my Amazon Wish List right now!

    No, it’s the way too cool other book club that does NOT recommend the sappy “look into yourself, take a personal discovery journey” crap she usually does ;) hehehe

  3. Oh the mandatory visit to the Ye Olde Hard Rock Cafe eh? The Tower of London is a trip – they sure came up with some very inventive ways to torture folks.

  4. Heh…yes. It was cool there but I would have preferred more time in the Tower…as a tourist that is!!