THE KING'S CURSE Philippa Gregory
A Perfect 10
Cousins' War Series
A Touchstone Book
ISBN: 978-1-4516-2611-7
September 2014
Historical Fiction

England Before and During the Reign of Henry VIII

Margaret of York is between a rock and a hard place. Her family, the royal Plantagenets has been beaten at Bosworth with the death of Richard III. The Tudors, with a slim claim to the throne, are making sure that none of the Plantagenets are anywhere near power of any kind. Thus, despite Margaret's birthright, she quietly retreats to Wales with the husband the Tudors have forced her to marry, Sir Richard Pole. Luckily for Margaret, he is a kind man, and they move to Wales where he is the governor. The new king, Henry VII, and his mother, Margaret Beaufort, rule with an iron hand, paranoid of anyone claiming even the tiniest link to the Plantagenets. So Margaret remains hidden away, making no attempt to contact her surviving relatives, and dealing with her growing family. Meanwhile, her cousin, Elizabeth of York, is wed to the new king, cementing, in the Tudor eyes, their valid reason for taking the throne. Both women are well aware of a curse put upon the Tudors by Elizabeth's mother and herself, condemning any children borne by Henry.

Arthur, the Prince of Wales, and his new wife, Katherine of Aragon, are sent to the Poles upon their wedding. Margaret is enchanted by the young Spanish princess who obviously adores her new husband, and it's apparent that the feeling is mutual. Everything seems wonderful until Prince Arthur takes ill and dies, leaving a grieving wife, and a distraught mother. Margaret is drawn into the controversy of whether the young royal couple ever consummated their marriage, which will come back to haunt her later.

Life gets very difficult for Margaret when her husband dies, leaving her with five young children and very little money. Begging for help from the king gets her nowhere, and she must send her older sons away to a relative, another son must live with monks, and her youngest two move with her to an abbey. Despite the pleas from her cousin, the Queen, Margaret is destitute. But everything changes when Henry VII dies and his surviving son, also Henry, takes the throne. Margaret is brought to London to serve as a lady in waiting to the new Queen Katherine, and soon all of Margaret's titles and lands are restored to her and her family.

Margaret, Lady Salisbury now, faces many peaks and valleys throughout her life. Fighting to stay out of the political battles, Margaret struggles to remain neutral, but all the while knowing that it is her family that should be ruling, that her sons are heirs to the royal family which was overthrown, and that Henry VIII's growing instability could be dangerous for her and all of her remaining relatives.

THE KING'S CURSE is told in the first person by Margaret, and readers will get an insight into the dangers of being a royal on the wrong side of the throne, especially as Henry VIII ages and he struggles to have a male heir. Margaret tries desperately to keep her children out of the fray, but Henry's paranoia will be difficult to avoid.

Beautifully researched with well-drawn characters, THE KING'S CURSE is not to be missed.

Jani Brooks