Review of The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory

The final novel in the Cousins’ War series, the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries, The White Queen, by #1 New York Times bestselling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory tells the fascinating story of Margaret Pole, cousin to the “White Princess,” Elizabeth of York, and lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon.

Regarded as yet another threat to the volatile King Henry VII’s claim to the throne, Margaret Pole, cousin to Elizabeth of York (known as the White Princess) and daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, is married off to a steady and kind Lancaster supporter—Sir Richard Pole. For his loyalty, Sir Richard is entrusted with the governorship of Wales, but Margaret’s contented daily life is changed forever with the arrival of Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon. Margaret soon becomes a trusted advisor and friend to the honeymooning couple, hiding her own royal connections in service to the Tudors.

After the sudden death of Prince Arthur, Katherine leaves for London a widow, and fulfills her deathbed promise to her husband by marrying his brother, Henry VIII. Margaret’s world is turned upside down by the surprising summons to court, where she becomes the chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine.

But this charmed life of the wealthiest and “holiest” woman in England lasts only until the rise of Anne Boleyn, and the dramatic deterioration of the Tudor court. Margaret has to choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical king, or to her beloved queen; to the religion she loves or the theology which serves the new masters. Caught between the old world and the new, Margaret Pole has to find her own way as she carries the knowledge of an old curse on all the Tudors.


Really good story, and like the history of the Titanic, you know a tragic ending is part of the journey. I think the author did a great job at showing you the highs and lows of the main character’s life. I really identified with Margaret Pole’s internal conflict and the denial she had to use to cope toward the end. The last scene was intense.

In some ways the anticipation of this tragedy this probably dragged out the reading for me because I wanted to avoid the sad ending, though I wanted to finish the book. Good authors make you care. And Maggie had such a tragic history and relationship with the tower to include her brother and then other members of her family – all killed to prevent them from taking a throne they didn’t even want. She only desired to live discreetly and with her family intact.

Since I watched the mini-series “The Tudors” I remember the scene where Margaret is told she is to be executed and she flips out. So sad. Another fabulous read by Philippa, who is one of my all-time favorite authors because she really knows how to tug at my heartstrings, and she always does this without inserting graphic sex and violence. Love it!

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