The King’s Curse

Philippa Gregory
Simon & Schuster, £16.99, ebook £17.45
Review: Laura Wurzal

Philippa Gregory, the author who brought us Elizabeth the White Queen, Margaret the Red Queen, and made us fall in love with Anne Neville’s husband Richard III, now introduces us to Margaret Pole, countess of Salisbury.

Princess Margaret of York was niece of King Edward IV and King Richard III, but her life changed in 1485 when the Lancaster heir Henry Tudor came to the throne and ended Plantagenet rule. Her cousin, Elizabeth, the White Princess, married Henry while Margaret married Tudor supporter Henry Pole, before becoming lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon and lady governess to her daughter Mary.

The book follows the rise and falls in Margaret’s life. She is widowed with five children and no money, though her fortunes improve when Henry VIII comes to the throne. She then sees the fall of Catherine, then Anne Boleyn, then the decline of the Tudor court as the king became a paranoid tyrant. Eventually, aged 65, she is arrested, accused of treason and sent to the Tower of London. There was no trial and in 1541, aged 67, she was executed.

In Margaret, Phillipa Gregory has given us another fabulous heroine; a likeable, clever character who becomes one of the wealthiest women in the country. The reader is drawn into her passion for life, as we see her manage her lands and properties, and look after her family and servants. Her life, and this book, is a emotional soap opera full of love, joy, hope, betrayal, tragedy. When’s the TV series...?


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