Friday, 23 January 2015

The King's Curse (Audiobook) by Philippa Gregory

Reviewer: Gillian Hamer, author of The Charter, Closure, Complicit & Crimson Shore (

Audiobook narrated by Bianca Amato.

What we thought: I’m a big fan of Philippa Gregory’s books, and think I’ve probably learnt more about Henry VIII and the history of the Tudors from her than I did from many years of schooling! However, it’s been more than a year since I last read any of her work, and since then I’ve fallen in love with Hilary Mantel, so I did wonder if her writing would still grip me. I needn’t have worried.

The King’s Curse is written from an original POV – that of Margaret Pole, daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, one of the few surviving members of the Plantagenet dynasty after the Wars of the Roses. In previous Tudor novels, including Mantel’s, Margaret has been a bit-part, hidden in the shadows of Queen Katherine or Princess Mary. Here, she takes front stage, and her story is as thrilling and brave as any of the female leads to come before her.

She was Lady of Ludlow during the period Arthur, Prince of Wales, took his new, young bride to live there. Having accepted a marriage, any marriage, following her family's defeat in the Civil War, Margaret Pole was at her lowest ebb. However, she made one very important decision in life when, after Arthur’s early death, she chose to stand by, and support, Katherine of Aragon. That decision dictated her life path, and bought her riches, power – and sorrow.

I loved the audiobook version of this novel, and think the narrator did a wonderful job in bringing the strength of Margaret Pole to life through the trials and tribulations of her life. Gregory’s writing may not have such flowing, charismatic prose as Mantel’s – but her gift for storytelling is her one true strength. I was immersed in the story, location and period in history – and you can ask for nothing more from historical fiction.

It won’t be another year before I read the next Philippa Gregory.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Religion, Royalty, warring families ... or anything Tudor.

Avoid if you don’t like: Henry VIII, infidelity, power-mad men and women, executions ... or anything Tudor.

Ideal accompaniments: A tankard of mulled ale and silver plate of sliced roast oxen.

Genre: Historical Fiction.

Available from Amazon/Audible here.

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