3.0 out of 5 starsFrom a very young age, Margaret Beaufort idolized Joan of Arc and imagined herself with a similar destiny – riding into battle to save England from the  grasping York family and installing the *rightful king* on the throne.  Margaret is first married to Edmund Tudor, bears a son Henry, and she knows from the get go that this son is destined to be King of England (funny, I could have sworn the Beauforts were legitimized with the provision they could never rule…). Marriage #2 is to older (but wiser) Henry Stafford, and he prefers to keep his head and sit quietly on the proverbial fence as the wars between the houses of Lancaster and York tear England in two. Who will win in the end? The mad Henry and his she-devil wife Margaret of Anjou or will Warwick the kingmaker put Edward of York on the throne?

The dust finally settles with Edward as king (no spoilers that’s known history), and a now widowed Margaret comes to court to find a new husband, a husband who is willing to aid her in her schemes on Henry’s behalf – and she finds a perfect fit in Thomas Stanley. The two insinuate themselves into Edward’s court biding their time until they can make a move, and upon the death of Edward, Richard takes the throne, his two sons disappear from the Tower and Stanley’s treachery at Bosworth field forever changes history.

“Don’t be a Beaufort filled with wounded pride – be a Stanley: get on the winning side”

Sound like a chant at a football game? We all thought so and credit to Karla at Goodreads for making us a Team Stanley poster,

Hehe. OK, yes there’s a whole lot more to it than that but this is one of those times where you either know the history already and don’t need it rehashed one more time and for those who don’t – Wik can do it much better than I can. My thoughts? While a bit better than The White Queen, using the first person narrative with someone who spends so much time stuck out in the country really boxed the story into a dreary corner. There is way too much telling instead of showing, especially those treasonous letters between her and Jasper – I’m guessing Margaret and her co-conspirators were a bit smarter than to put that stuff to paper. While I understand that Margaret was an extremely pious person, I am smart enough to figure it out from the get go, I didn’t need to be clubbed over the head with it like we were with Melusine in TWQ. I have to admit to jumping up and down for joy when I hit this on page #304,

“This letter irritates me so intensely that I cannot even pray for the rest of the day.”

Whew! In the end, this was an average book, one that doesn’t bring anything new to the table and might not appeal to serious Ricardians – and the gold standard of those is still Sharon Penman’s fabulous The Sunne in Splendour. That said, this series will definitely appeal to PG fans as well as those looking for a starter point for exploring the period, just don’t take everything in the book as gospel – I’m not buying Elizabeth of York as a fortune-telling water witch :/

3/5 stars. As for Mr. FTC? Why this book was passed along to me from another reader.

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