The Beaufort Bride:
The Life of Margaret Beaufort
(Beaufort Chronicles #1)
By Judith Arnopp
As King Henry VI slips into insanity and the realm of England teeters on the brink of civil war, a child is married to the mad king’s brother. Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, takes his child bride into Wales where she discovers a land of strife and strangers.
At Caldicot Castle and Lamphey Palace Margaret must put aside childhood, acquire the dignity of a Countess and, despite her tender years, produce Richmond with a son and heir.
While Edmund battles to restore the king’s peace, Margaret quietly supports his quest; but it is a quest fraught with danger.
As the friction between York and Lancaster intensifies 14-year-old Margaret, now widowed, turns for protection to her brother-in-law, Jasper Tudor. At his stronghold in Pembroke, two months after her husband’s death, Margaret gives birth to a son whom she names Henry, after her cousin the king.
Margaret is small of stature but her tiny frame conceals a fierce and loyal heart and a determination that will not falter until her son’s destiny as the king of England is secured.
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me…”
1 Corinthians 13:11
The bells ring out in celebration, but Lady Margaret can only think of all the things that she is losing. At twelve years old she is no longer a child, but a wife to King Henry’s half-brother — Edmund, Earl of Richmond. Marriage to Edmund has secured Margaret’s future, but Margaret cannot help but fear that their marriage will not be a happy one, for he is formidable and so much older than she is.
Forced to put her childish ways behind her, Margaret is determined to make the most of her position as the Countess of Richmond. However, her husband is eager for an heir. Margaret, despite her young years, has no choice but to obey Edmund in everything. In a strange foreign land, far away from her family, Margaret turns to God for reassurance and comfort.
From the comforting nursery at Bletsoe Castle to the cold and formidable fortress of Jasper Tudor’s stronghold in Pembrokeshire, The Beaufort Bride: The Life of Margaret Beaufort (Beaufort Chronicles #1) by Judith Arnopp is a beautifully presented and wonderfully compelling story of Lady Margaret Beaufort’s early years.
Margaret is portrayed as a conscientious student who has a vivid, if somewhat frightening, imagination. She also has all the makings of a powerful and determined young woman. The stage is set for the story of one woman’s resolve to see her son crowned King.
To write in the first person from the perspective of a young child is notoriously difficult to do well. However, Ms Arnopp has cleverly crafted a character whose innocence and lack of understanding as to why she has to marry when she is still in the nursery, shines from the pages as elegantly as the illumination in the Book of Hours.
Margaret is often painted as a rather cold and God-fearing woman, whose cunning and manipulation made way for her son to take the throne. Yet, in Mrs Arnopp’s portrayal, Margaret is very much an innocent who inspires a great deal of sympathy, but also admiration. My heart went out to her on many occasions, and although there are hints of the God-fearing woman, Margaret was later to become, there was also a tender and vulnerable side to her. Nevertheless, even as a young child, Margaret knows who she is. She is a Lancastrian, and will always be loyal to her House.
Ms Arnopp has kept close to the documented history of the time. If you already know Margaret’s story, then you will find no glaring inaccuracies in this book. What Ms Arnopp has done is breathe fresh life into the world that Margaret lived and the people who shared it with her. The Beaufort Bride: The Life of Margaret Beaufort is a story I would willingly get lost in time and again.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde
The Coffee Pot Book Club