The Beaufort Woman
(Beaufort Chronicles #2)
By Judith Arnopp
Margaret Beaufort's story continues in
The Beaufort Woman
The Beaufort Woman
As the struggle between York and Lancaster continues, Margaret Beaufort fights for admittance to the court of the victorious Edward IV of York and his unpopular queen, Elizabeth Woodville.
The old king and his heir are dead, leaving only Margaret’s son, the exiled Henry Tudor, with a tenuous claim to the throne. The royal nursery is full, with two small princes securing York’s continuing rule.
But Edward and Elizabeth’s magnificent court hides a dark secret, a deception that threatens the security of the English throne … and all who lust after it.
In 1483, with the untimely death of the King, Margaret finds herself at the heart of chain of events that threaten the supremacy of York, and will change England forever.
The Beaufort Woman: One woman’s selfless struggle for the rights of her son.
“Some would say that life itself is a battle, and the rules apply equally. One must know one’s friend…and one’s enemies, of course…”
There seems to be no end in sight to the suffering and misery brought about by the Cousins’ War. The country is divided. But who will win the ultimate prize? Who will sit on the throne of England? Will it be a son from the House of Lancaster or a son from the House of York?
Married at 12, widowed at 13, Lady Margaret Beaufort is now the wife of Sir Henry Stafford. Margaret had not expected to find love again, but Henry’s gentle ways and intelligent wit make for a good husband and a contented household. If only he were not called so often to war. Henry has not the constitution for the battlefield and Margaret fears greatly for his health. She also desperately misses her beloved and only son, Henry. As soon as this war is over, Margaret is determined to leave for Pembrokeshire, for that is where her son lives with his uncle and guardian, Jasper Tudor.
However, fate is a fickle friend at the best of times, and it is certainly no friend of Margaret’s.
The Battle of Tewkesbury changes everything. Having lost his wits, his two kingdom and his son, the Lancastrian King, Henry VI, dies in the Tower. There is only one other legitimate heir to Henry’s throne. Unfortunately for Margaret, the heir is her son. But, Henry is only a child, what threat could he possibly be to the recently crowned son of York, Edward IV?
Well, Judith Arnopp has done it again. History has come gloriously back to life in The Beaufort Woman (Beaufort Chronicles #2).
The Beaufort Woman follows the fortunes and misfortunes of Lady Margaret Beaufort as she navigates the dangerous, yet also rewarding, court of Edward IV and Richard III. This is a wonderfully vibrant retelling of the history of this period. It is told through the narrative of Lady Margaret, which makes this a very personal and intimate reciting.
In recent years Lady Margaret’s reputation has been somewhat tarnished. I have read several historical fiction stories of her life, and Margaret always came across as a cold, manipulative, ambitious, God-fearing woman who has no compassion for anyone other than herself and her son. This depiction never sat very well with me. It is as if Margaret has taken the place of what was once reserved for Richard III. Margaret is now the antagonist in this sordid tale of kingship and power. Thank goodness Arnopp did not follow the trend. Arnopp has presented Margaret as a loving wife, a caring mother, and a loyal friend. Her forced separation from Henry is utterly heartbreaking. Margaret, as any mother would, wants to be with her son more than anything else. She wants to see him grow up. She wants to know all the things that a mother should know about her child. The last thing to cross Margaret’s mind is that one day Henry might be crowned King… Well, perhaps it did cross her mind once or twice!
Make no mistake, this story isn’t just about a mother‘s longing for her child. It is very much a story about England and the principal players of this time. They are all within the pages of this remarkable book. Some are villains and some are not, but all have their own story to tell. Arnopp has presented a sublime account of Edward’s court, as well as the uncertainty which followed his death, and the subsequent court of Richard III. This is a richly drawn novel. The historical figures walk off the page for the readers’ enjoyment.
I adored the characterisation of Sir Henry Stafford. He is a loving husband who was taken too soon. However, Arnopp’s interpretation of Sir Thomas Stanley was magnificent. Like Margaret’s initial reaction, I didn’t want to like him, but as the story progressed, I felt my initial resistance to him thawing. He was fabulously portrayed. This is one of the things that I love so much about this series, the characters are so real in the telling that they provoke strong reactions. I found myself putting on Margaret’s shoes, so to speak, and asking myself, would I have done anything differently if I were her during this period in history?
I enjoyed the portrayal of the relationship between Margaret and Elizabeth Woodville— Edward’s Queen. Their friendship is a little complicated to begin with, but there is no doubt in Arnopp‘s interpretation that the two of them are fond of each other, and there is certainly no malice there. I think this is a much more realistic interpretation of their relationship. As was Arnopp’s interpretation of Margaret’s relationship with Anne Neville, Richard’s Queen.
Arnopp has that rare skill of being able to make even the mundane exciting and compelling; an example of this is when Margaret finds herself under house arrest for plotting against King Richard. I could feel her initial relief at Richard’s leniency in sentencing her, and then later, I could understand her frustration and boredom at being so cut off from the life at Court.
Arnopp writes with great elegance and authority. This is one of those stories where reading one more chapter before you close the book is not satisfying enough. Once began, you don’t want any interruptions. This is most definitely a sit-down-and-finish book. The Beaufort Woman (Beaufort Chronicles #2) is, without a doubt, one of the best books I have ever read set in this period of history. It is so good. I want to shout about it from the rooftops.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde
The Coffee Pot Book Club Book Award.
Cheetham, A. Fraser, A (editor) — The Wars of the Roses (University of California Press, 2000)