Title: The King’s Curse
Author: Philippa Gregory
Series: The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels (formerly The Cousin’s War)
Published: August 14th, 2014
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)
While not my favorite of the Cousin’s War series, I nevertheless loved this book. I’d never heard much about Margaret Pole and I found her story fascinating. Her story also provides a different look at Henry VIII, a point of view I hadn’t thought about.The summary of The King’s Curse from Goodreads:
The final novel in the Cousins’ War series, the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries, The White Queen, by #1 New York Times bestselling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory tells the fascinating story of Margaret Pole, cousin to the “White Princess,” Elizabeth of York, and lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon.
Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.
After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret’s world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. But this charmed life of the wealthiest and “holiest” woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.
What I Liked:
I’ve read a lot of books about, and done a lot of research on, Henry VII and his wives. I’ve always thought it fascinating that one man could twist an entire country around and create a new religion just to get what he wants. What I loved about this book was the fact that it had a different perspective on Henry. Margaret was his mother’s cousin and had been a part of his life from a young age. She saw the rambunctious child who dealt with struggles, but had a kind heart.
As Henry grew up, she saw him becoming the good king, the one who would be fair to his people and nothing like his father, who held on to the throne through power instead of favor. Yet fortunes changed and Henry started becoming more and more like the father that put fear into the country.
Margaret watches as Henry falls into paranoia. She remembers the child, so full of life, that was spoiled and coddled. She watches as that man becomes king, the most powerful man in the country. As a child, wanting something you couldn’t have was normal, but as an adult, Margaret watches as Henry refuses to listen to people who tell him no, something he never heard as a child. She watches as the young boy her cousin raised in kindness becomes a powerful king who resembles his father.
Margaret was an interesting character, both within the novel and in real life. I ended up doing a bit of research on her, just because I was curious about her life before I started to read. She was constantly going in and out of favor, just because of her family name. She was too close to the crown when Henry VII was king. Then Henry VIII came to power and he brought her and her family back into the fold because she was family. Then she was out of favor because she sided with Queen Katherine. Over and over, Margaret had to adapt to an ever evolving situation.
She knew the danger of her name, knew the danger of the curse her family had placed on the person who murdered Elizabeth of York’s brothers. She knows the value of silence, of blending in. Yet part of her calls to the crown. She has royal blood, no matter who is king.
What I Didn’t Like:
Sometimes scenes and information became repetitive. While I understood Margaret and her family’s need for secrecy, at times the same information was conveyed several times and it really didn’t add anything to the story.
I’d Recommend To:
If you already like Gregory’s novels, you’ll like this one. Overall, the Cousin’s War series is a wonderful series to read if you’re interested in that period of English history. The King’s Curse brings both the Cousin’s War and Tudor Court series together, bridging the two through one woman’s story.
You can purchase The King’s Curse here: