Book Review – ‘The King’s Curse’ by Philippa Gregory

The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory

Also published on my sister blog

The riveting story of Margaret Pole, daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, and was one of the few surviving members of the Plantagenet dynasty after the Wars of the Roses. Plantagenet, once carried proudly by Margaret like a crown upon her head, is now, at the end of the 15th century, the most dangerous name in England… [Description from Waterstones]

This book of Philippa Gregory’s came as a pleasant surprise to me. Some of her books really hit the mark and are addictive, but some I struggle to read at all. This wasn’t one I struggled with – the first third of the book in particular I was hooked with, as Margaret Pole struggled to deal with the fate of her brother, Warwick, and the supposed curse enacted on the Tudors for the murder of the Princes in the Tower.

I think that the characterisation of Margaret Pole was interesting as there isn’t really a lot of emphasis on her in fictional portrayals of the Tudors, and there aren’t many biographies either, which is strange as she lived from the reign of Edward IV through Edward V, Richard III, Henry VII, and most of the way through the reign of Henry VIII. Her family was the last of the Plantagenets (aka the White Rose) and she was executed for treason, along with her father, brother and son.

The way that Gregory writes is sometimes quite annoying but I think it worked quite well here because the story does cover so many years. When it jumps forwards in time to different places it can seem like you’ve missed something, but it also keeps the story moving at times when not much is happening. I think that the way of separating the different sections also means it is easy to find where you last finished reading and pick it up again, but maybe that’s just me!

It was also an interesting portrayal of Henry VIII, as you can really see him changing from a spoilt child, to an athletic young man into the corpulent bad-tempered figure we recognise. The relationship portrayed here between Prince Arthur and Katherine of Aragon was also interesting, as it believes that Arthur and Katherine did consummate their marriage and that Katherine later lied about it in deference to Arthur’s dying wish. It would be nice to think that Katherine did have some happiness given how unhappy she was later on, but I’m not entirely convinced by this explanation.

This book is worth reading simply for the life of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury in her own right, who lived in the reigns of five kings, two killed by their predecessors, having a strong claim to the throne herself. She is an incredibly fascinating woman and I want to know more.

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