The King’s Curse, Philippa Gregory
Philippa Gregory’s work in general focuses on the stories of historical female figures, which can be fascinating given that history has very rarely been told from their point of view. This book focuses on Margaret Pole, a member of the court of Henry VIII, who also happens to be a Plantagenet heir. Whereas with Gregory’s previous novels that I’ve read I had a rough idea of what happened to the protagonists, I had no idea what was in store for Margaret Pole. I was fascinated by the narrative point of view in this book – in some respects, Margaret is a bystander at court; her life and safety is very much at the mercy of the whims of Henry VIII. We see the chaotic events of the later years of his reign through her eyes as a spectator, providing a different perspective on them. The description of the effect of the dissolution of the monasteries on poor people during this period was particularly effective. However, Margaret is not merely depicted as a spectator someone else’s drama. Rather, she is shown as a powerful figure in her own right, managing an estate, building property and acting as matriarch to her family after the death of her husband.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel; it was an easy, gripping read that left me with lots to think about. I would recommend it.