Grafton Public Library

Book Review: The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory

Posted by hfowler on

Image of itemWhen dealing with the British monarchy, there is no better author than Philippa Gregory. Her heavily researched historical novels are instant successes, and The King’s Curse is no exception.

Because the history of the British monarchy is so vast, I feel the need  for a point of reference  to acclimate myself. The only way I could even begin to follow the life of Mary Pole, a Plantagenet, was  with her connection to Henry VIII, the subject of the curse.

It was through the television series, The Tudors , that I came to know about the rise and fall of  Henry VIII, his incessant desire for  male heirs, and the many women whose lives were devastated  by his whims.  It was the soap opera of the 16th century.

Philippa Gregory uses the voice of Mary Pole who was of royal descent. She became the guardian to Arthur, the young  Price of Wales, who was wed to Katherine of Aragon. Katherine was the daughter of King Ferdinand  and Queen Isabella of Spain. After Arthur’s premature death, Katherine married her brother-in-law, Henry VIII.

At one time Mary was in favor at the court, but as Katherine failed for ten years to produce a son  both women were cast aside  while Henry moved on to Anne Boleyn.

This is but the framework of the drama. How Mary managed to raise her family as a widow, keep track of her lands and household and remain in the king’s good graces makes for intensive reading, all 600 pages of it.

As Mary becomes more and more ostracized, much of what happens at court  is revealed to her by her sons who remain in the king’s favor. While Henry is the mover and the shaker, Mary brings a different viewpoint to what the country endured  over an increasingly tyrannical and  out of control king.

Although  we are now only interested in Kate, William, Baby George and Harry, it’s fascinating to see how  royal families evolve. Excellent historical reading…


I give The King’s Curse  4 English roses.

Happy reading from Beverly!


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