'My boy', 'My boy', 'My boy' ... how many times did I read those words as I followed Gregory's telling of the life and times of Margaret Beaufort and her quest to put her son, Henry on the throne of England. Margaret, a mere tool of the Lancaster family line, is meant to be the mother of royalty. She is like any other noble girl of the 15th century when it comes to marriage. She is considered nothing but fodder; her duty is to marry well, obey her husband, spread her legs to take his seed, and bear him sons and heirs. Case closed. Margaret, however, has a brain in her head and a vision in her soul . She is pious to the point of nausea, seeing herself as a British version of Joan of Arc, bent on a heavenly mission to put a Lancaster heir on the throne of England. She has no control over who she marries and where she lives, or how she raises Henry, her son by her first husband, Edmund Tudor. Consequently, she spends her years attempting to maintain connections that will help her son remain in a safe and viable position to ascend to the throne - this during the notorious War of the Roses.
Gregory has done an admirable job of portraying the back and forth of the changing political alliances during this dangerous period of English history. She gives Margaret a voice that is filled with frustration, bitterness, longing, conniving, love and hatred. While Margaret continually professes her Godliness and God-given place among the royal upper crust, the reader sees her for the driven woman she is. Unable to make her own mark in the world, she is determined that her son make that mark - living vicariously will have to do, will help her fulfill her destiny. She is both a saint and a sinner in that her ambition leads her to be false in her feelings and dealings with her political adversaries and family members as well as have decidedly un-Christian thoughts towards the women she meets at court. She is a bitter ambitious shrew, as far as I am concerned, but I still was drawn to know her story and the story of the beginnings of the Tudor dynasty.
This is one book in a series about the royal cousins and all their infighting and double-dealing during 15th century Europe. What a tangled web of bloodlines, allegiances, skirmishes, marriages, births, and deaths! It's positively enthralling!