The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory
Book 6 in The Cousin’s War Series
Unabridged, 24 hr. 11 min.
Simon & Schuster Audio
Bianca Amato (Narrator)
September 9, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Received the download from the publisher for review
“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.”
This is actually the first book in The Cousin’s War series that I have read, although I do own the majority of them. I can tell you that you do not need to have read the other books in this series to enjoy this book, it reads as a stand-alone book with references to people who are featured in the other entries in this series.
I have read many other Gregory novels in the past and the style here is no different than that of her Tudor series. In this installment we are treated to Margaret Pole and the issues facing her family at the hands of Henry VII and ultimately Henry VIII. Some of the events that unfold in this book will feel a little repetitive if you have read The Constant Princess, also by Philippa Gregory. Margaret Pole is young Katherine of Aragon’s lady and she is embroiled in the whole “did they or didn’t they” scandal that surrounds Katherine and Prince Arthur’s marriage, but this time seen from a slightly different view.
I ultimately liked the Pole family featured in this novel – I found them to be likable and their story interesting and engaging (Gregory is fairly sympathetic to the York family). There always seems to be one bad egg in every family, and the Pole family has one of those too. I felt bad for all of the things that this family had to go through at the hands of the King of England. It had to be quite an unsettling time to live through, full of uncertainty. As the book is being told in the first person the end is very interesting, and I think very well done, for how Margaret’s story ends.
Overall this was a good read with just a few small places where the story slowed down.
Oh, and the curse? We are beat over the head with what that is all about. Subtlety is not her strong point.
Bianca Amato is a prolific historical fiction narrator. She narrates all of The Cousin’s War series and a few of the Tudor novels, as well as other books by Tasha Alexander, Celia Rees, Karen Essex and others. She has won Audiofile awards for her narrations of Gregory’s novels. And all of these awards are deserved because the narration of this book was a hit. Amato’s narration helped to gloss over some of those areas when the writing was spotty.
Author Philippa Gregory also has written the following books in The Cousin’s War series: The White Queen, The Red Queen, The Kingmaker’s Daughter, The Lady of the Rivers, and The White Princess. You can visit Gregory’s website for additional information about the book.
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