D.L. Bogdan’s recent release is aptly named – The Forgotten Queen is about Margaret Tudor, the seemingly little known older sister of Henry VIII who is always overshadowed by her siblings. It probably doesn’t help her case that at an early age she is sent to Scotland as a peace offering by her father to the Scottish King, James IV and is largely offstage from the intrigues of the Tudor court. A few years ago I read a non-fiction book about the sisters and thought that it was a shame there wasn’t more written about Margaret, since her life had enough drama and heartache to rival her brother’s.
Told in first person by Margaret, the story opens with an immature young girl who considers going to Scotland the equivalent of being condemned to hell. In one of the few portrayals I’ve seen of Henry VII as the man and loving father (rather than the king), he gently reminds his daughter of her duty and that she alone may be able to bring peace to their troubled country. Margaret vows to make the best of the situation and to make her family and country proud.
In Scotland, Margaret finds her husband is much older than she is but he is also kind and she quickly and easily falls in love with him. But with the death of her father, their marital bliss is threatened as neither her husband nor her brother (now Henry VIII) seems particularly inclined to honor the terms of their treaty. The resulting conflict divides Margaret’s loyalties and ultimately leaves her a young widow with a baby son as the new king.
And then Margaret’s life foreshadows the one her granddaughter, Mary Queen of Scots, will take when it comes to being unlucky in love and marriage. Margaret and her son become pawns as various factions fight for control of the country and she makes some very stupid decisions.
Margaret is very hard to like. Although she loves her son and wants to protect him and his inheritance, she is also shallow, self-centered, and selfish. She is often immature and tends to act on her emotions without thinking things through. There were times when I felt sorry for her and others when I just wanted to smack her upside the head and say “enough already!” The melodrama of Margaret's narration got tiring after a while.
One thing that annoyed me quite a bit was the use/overuse of the words “dinna” and “canna”. I thought the abundance of “native” sounding words in the dialogue was an indication of the author trying too hard to create a historical atmosphere, which sadly is missing. Still, the story managed to keep my interest since I’m not that familiar with Margaret’s life and I didn’t always know what was going to happen next.
Favorite line: “You’re a Tudor. And Tudor just may be indistinguishable from trouble.” Henry to Margaret as she thanks him following her visit to England.
In case the FTC asks: review copy