Recently, in a book-buying spree at Amazon, I picked up copies of two historical novels about Margaret of Anjou. The first is best left unnamed. Though the writing in itself wasn’t bad, its plot consisted mainly of Margaret of Anjou having sex with men, boys, and women from all classes in all sorts of settings. (This may be the only historical novel written where Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret of Anjou have a lesbian relationship. Hopefully, it will be the last.) On the plus side, the author appears to have done a fair amount of research, so at least Margaret was having sex with people with whom she was known to be in the same geographical area as at the relevant time.
The second Margaret of Anjou novel is The Red Queen by Ruth S. Perot, which apparently was self-published in 2000. Unlike the first book mentioned here, which reads like a schoolboy fantasy run amok, The Red Queen is a rather sedate telling of Margaret’s story, reminiscent of Jean Plaidy’s The Red Rose of Anjou. It’s a sympathetic look at Margaret, though it doesn’t gloss over her faults either. The writing is solid, as is the research.
This novel could stand to be longer. In less than 300 pages, The Red Queen covers 40 years, and the period from 1460-71 seems to have been given rather short shrift. I would have especially liked to have seen more interaction between Margaret and her maturing son, between her and the Earl of Warwick, and between her and Anne Neville. It was nice, however, to see some familiar faces from the Wars of the Roses without the stereotypes that mar so many novels set during this period. For telling the story of a woman who’s too often been reduced to a mere caricature, Perot deserves high marks.