Sunday, March 8, 2015

The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory

Title: The King’s Curse
Author: Philippa Gregory
Read by: Bianca Amato
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: Approximately 24 hours (20 CDs)
Source: Simon & Schuster Audio Review Copy – Thank-you!

The King’s Curse is the story of Margaret Pole, one of the last York heirs and her life through the reign of Henry VII and Henry VIII.  I knew how this story would end through knowing the history of the time, but that only increased the impact of the story to me.  To follow Margaret’s life, her struggles and triumphs, and her ultimate end was very powerful.  It told much more about Henry VIII than just a biography of the man.

Margaret is the niece of two kings and the cousin of the current queen, Elizabeth of York.  Unfortunately the power behind the throne, the King’s mother Margaret Beaufort, makes sure that Margaret Pole does not gain a high position.  After Margaret’s husband’s death, she finds herself struggling to support herself and her family.  She basically has to send most of her sons away as squires and one, Reginald, becomes part of a monastery as a young boy.  Margaret’s fortunes change with Elizabeth’s young son Henry VIII becomes king.  An exuberant king, he gives Margaret back her ancestral lands and she is a Countess in her own right.  With young Reginald now in Europe under Henry’s patronage and her other sons as landed nobles and firm friends of the King, life is good.  Margaret is good friends with Henry’s Queen Catherine and becomes Princess Mary’s governess.  

Margaret also unfortunately knows a curse that her cousin Elizabeth of York put on the line that killed her two young brothers in the tower.  Elizabeth fears that this curse may be on her own line if her husband Henry was the culprit.  Margaret knows that she must never mention this curse and with a father and brother that were both killed for their family name, she must do everything to remain hidden and within King Henry’s good graces.  When fortunes change for Queen Catherine and Princess Mary, Margaret cannot put her friends aside and she is made to pay for this.  As King Henry sinks into tyranny, it seems that there is no safe place to hide.  Will Margaret and her family find a way to survive and keep their souls?

I highly enjoyed this book.  Margaret came across sometimes in the beginning as a little too proud of her royal blood.  By the end, she has realized that her husband had done her a lot of good by helping to hid it and her Plantagenet name.  The most moving part of the book for me is when she had to leave young Reginald behind at a monastery and he was only six years old.  That is the same age as my middle son and it brought a tear to my eye.  

I found this book very interesting to listen to.  Bianca Amato had an interesting British accent and was the voice of Margaret.  I loved Margaret’s unique story and also how intertwined it was with the story of Henry VIII.  Seeing Henry’s wives, friends, and trusted advisors all find their way to the block was very disturbing.  It was almost as if once finding just how much power he could weld and meeting no resistance, Henry just kept sinking further into the role of despot.  Margaret and her family were just one more piece in Henry’s way.

Overall, The King's Curse was a good book with a unique look at Margaret Pole and Tudor history.  I highly recommend it!


  1. I listened to Bianca Amato read several of Gregory's books and she really does an excellent job. I took a break after struggling with The Kingmaker's Daughter, but this one sounds fresh and interesting and moving.

  2. This does sound like a unique, historical story. Wonderful review, Laura! Thanks for adding another book/audiobook to my TBR list. :)