Commence! Young Margaret Beaufort is the last(ish) in the Lancaster line and needs to make with the heir-having, so they marry her off to the king’s half-brother (who knocks her up and promptly dies) and then to some lord. And it’s a good thing Margaret starts off as a child, so she (like you, Dear Reader) can be ignorant and confused and so her mother can be all, We of Lancaster are descended from Edward III’s oldest son, John of Gaunt, and they of York are only descended from Edward’s younger son, Edmund (are you getting this, Reader?) so they can only inherit if we all die.
So! Margaret is 15 (or so) and married to some lord. And because it wouldn’t be Gregory unless someone was having an illicit spousal hankering, she falls for her dead husband’s brother, Jasper. This is pretty low in the PGregg Scale of Incestery, since they only kiss the one time. Y’anyways. Her son is eventually whisked to France for being too heir-ish, the king goes mad, the Yorks get usurpy, enter the War of the Roses [stage right].
Margaret is sort of hanging out to one side for the most of this since, despite her delusions of grandeur and constant meddling she is still Very Unimportant, historicalwise. But after Prince Edward is killed, King Henry dies/is murdered, Edward of York takes the throne, most of The White Queen takes place, Edward dies, and Richard III kills the princes in the Tower (or does he?), THEN her son Henry comes back from France and there is an exciting battle and Richard is slewn. Sorry, spoilers.
And there MUST be some famous instance of Margaret Beaufort signing her name ‘Margaret Regina, Margaret R‘ because she MENTIONS how she’s going to sign her name ‘Margaret Regina, Margaret R‘ more times than any of the Boleyns mention the Boleyn inheritance in The Boleyn Inheritance, which is alotta times.
But Margaret says everything alotta times. She says the phrase ‘saint’s knees’ four times in one paragraph (that is a thing people say? ‘Saint’s knees’?), and when her son is left with his uncle she’s all, ‘No, he will come with me. Surely he will come with me…He must come with me’ and when her husband jaunts off to fight York she’s like, ‘”I never thought you would go to war…I always thought you would refuse to go. I never thought you would go to war.'”
And it isn’t just her. Everyone in this novel (and every PG novel ever written ever) talks like this. It’s like in her brain, Early Modern Era = Repeaty Emphasis. ‘You should marry a man high in the favor of the king, this king, the York king’ – Margaret’s second husband. ‘Then he waits for his father to come to him. Surely, his father will come for him. Surely, a man such as his father would not fail to come for his son and heir.’ – George Stanley. She HAS to be doing this on purpose. (Right?)
What I’m not sure she’s doing on purpose is making Margaret so very pissy. She clearly doesn’t like her, but I’m not sure La Greg knows she doesn’t like her. Beaufort is a silly, pious idiot of the God Wants My Baseball Team to Beat Yours brand. She is SO! SNIDE! At one point Lady Elizabeth says of her mother, ‘I think she has put worldly vanity behind her,’ and Margaret responds, ‘No, it is I who have put worldly vanity behind me.’ Because virtuous people are like Highlanders (…in that there can be only one).
And she’s bitching about being married and re-married and is all, ‘Nobody sees me for what I am: a young woman of great family with royal connections’ which THAT IS EXACTLY HOW THEY SEE YOU! As a young woman (having ovaries) of a great family (who it will benefit your husband to marry into) with royal connections (ibid)!!! When Edward of York takes his throne she whines because he’s getting all these lauds and no one ‘has ever written a single, solitary ballad’ about her. EAUGH! He is the king and you are not I am going to staaaab something.
But as much as it may have hurt my soul to read this, it did not hurt my brain, and I read it through to the end. It is harder to read than most Gregoriana because Beaufort is such a self-righteous shrew, but also quite a lot of shit goes down. So…let’s call it a wash.
Requisite Ass-Covering: From the publisher. Like I said.