Philippa Gregory’s Margaret Tudor has got to be the most annoying heroine to ever grace the pages of a historical fiction novel that isn’t a bodice ripper. She’s such a fricking airhead it’s not even funny. It’s always more about outdoing Katherine and Mary than anything else. She’s on a permanent ego trip.
Example: When James introduces her to his bastards, which was very ill done of him, by the way, she writes to her crafty spider of a grandmother, the Venerable Margaret Beaufort to advise her. However, before she could receive Grandmama’s sage advice, she loses her temper in true Tudor fashion and throws a tantrum. Of course, in her little fit, she’d done just the opposite of what her grandmother advised. Her response? “At any rate, the main thing is that I will get my own way.”
I thought that John Drummond was going to strangle her, I really did, and I know how the history turns out. The woman couldn’t smell a plot to save her life. Literally. It’s quite obvious that Drummond is trying to marry her off to his grandson, but she doesn’t see it. The not so subtle hints, the fact that he’s right there with his handsome youth and beautiful manners contrasting to such blatant advantage with the barbarity of the rest of the Scots. All the while, Drummond’s talking to her about future marriage prospects. How could she not see what was going on? The woman is a blind idiot.
I almost cheered later on when Ard says:
“Nobody but you cares about Mary!” he shouts at me … “Not about Mary and not whether you get the things she has, not about Katherine.”
And, when she’s wracked with such pain after she’s had Margaret in England, she tells Lord Dacre she can’t go on. That is until he mentions that Katherine has sent her some new gowns and that they are awaiting her at their destination. That got her moving fast enough, never mind the agony.
Whenever I’ve pictured Margaret Tudor in my imagination, I’ve always done so as a sort of female Henry VIII. And this is what Gregory gives us. Or her version thereof. A spoiled, spiteful, selfish child of a woman. I kept wondering when she’d grow up. As a queen, I’ve always thought Margaret was short-changed. There were moments during her son’s minority when she showed sparks of political brilliance. A lot like her granddaughter, Mary, Queen of Scots, actually. Like Mary, Margaret had a bad habit of surrendering to her emotions when what was needed was cold, hard logic. Not in Gregory’s version of history. For one thing, her Mary (The Other Queen) had half a brain. And her Margaret obviously does not.
I quite enjoyed this book, despite Margaret making me want to bang my head against the wall, right up until I couldn’t stomach her ego or her idiocy for one more page. What I’ve just described was from just the first half of the book, for crying out loud. She was just about to go back to Scotland when I quit. I know, historically speaking, it was about to get to the good part, but I just could not take her childishness anymore. I MAY go back to it…eventually.