After reading all the previous books in this series and being fully sucked into the world of the Plantagenets and now the Tudors, I was excited to see what this next and latest installment would have on offer and I was not at all disappointed.
As someone who has been quite obsessed with the Tudors all her life this really opened my eyes to the true going’s on of Henry VIII’s reign in the earlier years and just how he changed from the hero king to the tyrant and rule breaker he is known as today.
The novel follows Lady Margaret Pole, otherwise known as Margaret Neville, daughter of George Plantagenet [brother of King Edward IV and Richard III] and Isabel Neville [the Kingmaker’s first daughter]. After seeing her brother imprisoned in the tower all his life and wrongly executed by Henry VII, Margaret is arranged to a lowly marriage with her inheritance taken from her.
From then it follows the story of her and her husband as wards to Prince Arthur and his new wife Katherine of Aragon, her many losses leading to her downfall and the tough decisions she has to take before her wealth and status are restored when Henry VIII comes to the throne.
Margaret is aware of a curse on the Tudor line, put on them by her cousin Queen Elizabeth and her mother, also a Queen Elizabeth. It is a curse that should end the Tudor line with no heir and only a virgin girl. It is also a curse which Margaret is burdened to carry and never speak of for fear of her death or the death of her children.
It is a great and well written novel that I found hard to put down at times as I followed the interesting and eventful life of Margaret Pole and her family. Compared to the last novel, ‘The White Princess’, which I didn’t really love; this one I did and though it is a very long it is one that remains interesting and full of suspense throughout.
I think this may have a lot to do with the fact that Henry VIII was such an interesting King and his reign was remarkable in many ways so the history along with the drama writes itself. But also it is down to the inspiring and wonderful life of Margaret Pole, a quite astounding women to have lived in the 1500’s.
If you’ve read all the previous novels then this will obviously be on your ‘to read’ list and it will not disappoint quite like the last book did. However, if you have never read these books before I’d still recommend reading this as it is a great standalone piece and you don’t really need to know much of the history prior to this because the important bits you need to know are gone over in detail within this book anyway.
Another great novel from Gregory, who still remains one of my favourite novelists. Whether there is another book in the series remains to be seen but if not, this is definitely a good one to end on.