My Week in Books: 10th May

THE KING’S CURSE by PHILIPPA GREGORY

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In a nutshell: The story of one of the wealthiest women in Tudor England as she attempts to stay alive, whatever the cost,.

How long: A week.

Where I finished it: On the train. Perfectly timed as I arrived into my stop.

Favourite quote: The thought of the long winter stretches before me, and I cannot imagine spring.

Would I read it again: Hmmm, I’d like to, but there are just so many books to get through in the world that I doubt I’d bother.

I just love Philippa Gregory novels. They are the epitome of easy to read, escapist fiction. I can devour her books in just a few days. I read the whole Tudor Court series in about a month this time last year and now I’ve dived back in with The Cousins’ War series. Unfortunately when I got my craving for some historical fiction the only one I had on me was The King’s Curse which is technically the last book in the series. But it also works as the first book in The Tudor Court series. Either way it wasn’t really the best one to be reading but that didn’t stop me getting completely sucked in.

The Kings’ Curse focusses on the life of Margaret Pole, one of the last remaining Plantagenets during the reign of Henry VIII. It overlaps a lot with The Constant Princess and The Other Boleyn Girl, just telling the story from a different point of view which is a pretty bold move by Philippa Gregory; assuming that people would be interested in the same part of history again. But if her books are to be believed (which I’m sure they shouldn’t be but it doesn’t stop me taking every word as fact) then there was certainly enough intrigue and plotting going on to justify several books.

I stand by my claim that Philippa Gregory writes really awesome female characters. Margaret Pole was certainly a force to be reckoned with. She was also a little different. Unlike the typical hero who sticks staunchly to their beliefs, refusing to renounce them even if it means dying for the sake of it, Margaret Pole did everything she could to cling to life. She did whatever Henry VIII asked of her even if it went against everything she believed in because she recognised that there is nothing more precious than life. And I really admired that. I also found it much more relatable. If I were in her situation I don’t doubt for a second that I would have been doing exactly the same. It wasn’t fear, she wasn’t afraid of Henry VIII, she just didn’t think that there was anything that was worth dying for.

I suppose my only complaint would be the number of secondary characters. They’re all earl of something and called either John, Edward or Thomas. There was absolutely no way I could keep track of whose side they were on or who they’re related to.  But even when I gave up trying it didn’t stop me loving the story.

I really can’t recommend these books highly enough. They’re not cultured, they’re not beautifully written, the characters won’t stay with you and I doubt the stories will have any lasting impact, but they’re just great fun to read.

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