Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Review - The Forgotten Queen - Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

The Forgotten Queen by D.L. Bogdan
Kensington Books, February 2013

Format? paperback

Source? Kensington Books via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Forgotten Queen from the publisher in exchange for a review.  However, the review below and the opinions therein are my own and offered without bias. 

Title? The adjective "forgotten" confuses me.  I am no Queen Margaret scholar, but I couldn't figure out whether she was forgotten by her family or her people/countries or forgotten by history...maybe some of both?  Still mulling this.

Cover? I didn't picture Margaret like this, so the cover didn't work for me.  Bogdan richly describes Margaret in the beginning as a young child and then once she is married and begins having children, Bogdan just as richly describes Margaret's more mature, even "plump" body.  This cover didn't work for me at all with what I pictured.

Why? Oh, I'm a Tudor fanatic from way back...the only Queen Margaret info I had, however, was what I falsely learned from the Showtime t.v. series The Tudors...ahem, let's just say Margaret's portrayal in the series was more fiction than fact...and possibly even a conglomeration of both of Henry VIII sisters.

What Now?  My Tudor addiction has been re-kindled, and I've added 3 of the books from Bogdan's "Further Reading" section to my WishList :)

Golden Lines

This man, this king, was my father and never was the thought far from my mind that his were the hands that would shape my destiny. (11)

Was this what it meant to be a queen?  To give and give of oneself and only lose in return?  Your girls were sent abroad, your boys were set apart for their glorious educations, and God claimed the rest...(22)

Two hundred souls gone in one day, along with ninety-eight hundred more.  Ten thousand widows. (116)

I would be better, I vowed.  I would be the wife he wanted, the woman he wanted, and his head would turn for me alone. (151)

Whenever I beheld her, I could but think of her future.  Would she one day meet my eyes with the pain of her own agonizing  choices as a reflection?  Would she lose her children and her loves like me?  I could not bear the thought of it; we were all but repetitions of the vicious cycle born unto women, living one another's lives, crying one another's tears, over and over again. (181)

One of the few joys of returning was seeing my Ellen once more.  She was as beautiful as when I first saw her, fuller of figure, but it suited her; she appeared healthy and, as always, I cherished her calm, clear perspective on life. (208)

"A lovely sentiment," Albany observed.  "There are seventh days all around, those moments of calm and tranquility we must seize because there are very few times when life is not too much." (222)

The world did not belong to women, except for what they could do to further their men.  In this, my lot had to be cast with Jamie, as it always had. Such is the only fate for the mothers of kings.  (243)


Princess Margaret, daughter of King Henry VII, sister to the infamous King Henry VIII, was born knowing that she would be used in an international alliance...it was her job...it was her purpose in life.  It was the reason she had been born a daughter and not a son.  At the tender age of 12, she was betrothed to the adult King of Scotland, King James V, and by 13, after her own mother's death in childbirth, had moved there to marry him and become Queen of Scotland.  
King James V was a loving husband but an unfaithful, self-punished, religious zealot...Theirs was a happy marriage but ended soon after the birth of the child who would be King James VI when King James V went to war and never returned.  Queen Margaret is left regent of Scotland and vows to protect the throne at all costs for her son the child king.
Struggling with her personal life, Margaret is caught between three countries...England, Scotland and France...with allegiance to both Scotland and England and a political quagmire in dancing around the wishes of France, trying to somehow keep the peace between all 3.  

What I Liked

Oh, the history...the history...and then  more history...there were times I had to stop and almost draw a flowchart to keep up with the history of the monarchy and all its conspiracies, battles, mistresses, children (legitimate and illegitimate), feuds...gracious!

Some of my googling included:
Margaret Beaufort
War of the Roses
Houses of York and Lancaster
Elizabeth of York
King Richard III loses throne to Henry, Duke of Richmond who becomes King Henry VII, father of Arthur, King Henry VIII, Queen Margaret of Scotland and Queen Mary of France.
Isabella of Castile and the Inquisition
the Red Douglases

The reality of being a queen...or princess royal...not at all like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty or even Snow White's illustrious happily ever afters once they found their princes.  Margaret was 13 years old when she was sent to live in Scotland with her betrothed, King James V...13.  

The reality of being a monarch...such a heavy, heavy burden to bear...no matter how likeable or unlikeable the monarch was as a person.  Every decision is questioned, every move analyzed and criticized, expectations out the wazoo from generations before you were born.  No thanks.  The life of a commoner looks pretty good.

Most of the women of this era seemed to accept adultery as normal...I was glad to finally meet a character like Margaret who did not.  She expected her husband to be faithful.  Imagine that.  I would really like to know if there is truth to this and if there is evidence that there were other women like her.

Ellen - a friend to a woman in need.  Unfortunately a possible true friend who is legitimately afraid of being a the real friend Queen Margaret needs..she is a subject...and a slave to boot.  How can she speak freely?  Another incredibly sad part of the existence of a monarch.

What I Didn't Like

This is going to seem so mean...but Bogdan portrayed Margaret as so needy...and dramatic..."he must love me...he really must."  I am a cynic, I admit...and I don't respond to swooning women whose lives revolve around men very well...so these particular romantic comments really got on my nerves.  Perhaps the real Margaret was just like that...not sure...but she would have gotten on my nerves as well if she was.  Not that she would have cared or anything ;)

The reality of being a woman during this time in history...pretty much breeding stock...chosen to carry on the legacy or the family tree.  Spouses were chosen for their families, their countries of origin and their stock...their health.  Pregnancy, birth, many times death, and even in life, the removal of your child at a very young age from you were "normal" occurrences.  I couldn't help but think of how today breeders use female dogs until they're just used up...and then they die.  Very depressing.  And, yes, there were many times during this novel where I felt so sad.

Margaret - Good gravy, woman.  Get over yourself.  I rolled my eyes several times at her silliness and romanticism.   I saw Angus coming from 6 miles away, and she just ignored all the obvious signs.  And there were a couple of times where she literally stamped her foot like a spoiled child bc she wanted things her way...especially when Ellen asked to go home.  By this time, I was done with her, and her tears had absolutely no effect on me at all.  Monarch or no monarch, she could have been a better person.  Yes, she sacrificed her life for her son....but what about everyone else around her?  I realize she was brought up to believe that very task to be the most important of her life, but even so, she couldn't expect the rest of the world and/or those closest to her to just roll over and also sacrifice their lives as well.  Although, that in itself was probably pretty normal for living in the closest circles of a monarch.  I didn't like it at all.

The men in Margaret's life...from Jamie to Angus, Albany, and Harry...they all talked the talk about understanding what it meant to love a Queen...but when it came right down to it, they each expected her to eventually put themselves first.  And that just wasn't possible.  Margaret never pretended that it was; they just assumed that eventually their lives with her would reach that point.  In my contemporary eyes, that was just simply unfair.

Overall Recommendation

There is no doubt in my mind that Queen Margaret sacrificed her entire life for that of her son, King James VI...fulfilling the wishes of her father King Henry VII that Scotland and England could one day be reunited.  I think it is for this reason that The Forgotten Queen is recommended only for those who seek a fictionalized yet honest account of the story of one woman whose life was orchestrated from before she was born to the very end.  

The Author

D.L. Bogdan

Other Stops on the Tour

Monday, January 21 

Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading

Tuesday, January 22
Review at Peppermint, Ph.D.
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, January 23
Review at My Reading Room 

Thursday, January 24

Review at Unabridged Chick

Author Interview & Giveaway at My Reading Room
Friday, January 25

Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Libraria

Monday, January 28

Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Review & Giveaway at The Broke and the Bookish

Tuesday, January 29
Review & Giveaway at Always with a Book
Review at Review From Here

Wednesday, January 30
Review & Giveaway at Ageless Pages Reviews
Author Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Thursday, January 31

Friday, February 1
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Author Interview & Giveaway at The True Book Addict


  1. I think it probably sucked to be a woman back in the day and sucked whether you were Queen, royal or poor.

    1. Since I'm a great fan of air conditioning, refrigeration, and modern medicine, I'm pretty sure it sucked for everybody...although I guess they didn't realize it sucked so much since they had nothing to compare it with.

  2. I also have a fascination with the Tudors, making this book a must read for me. I haven't read much about Margaret, and so I do sort of think of her as a "forgotten queen". It sounds like she was a little bit bratty at times though, and I am not sure how I would react to that. But then again, a lot of queens were bratty...just look at Anne Boleyn! Great review today!

    1. She could definitely be bratty...she was her brother's sister after all :)

  3. I don't have a Tudor-addiction but this could be the start of one. It sounds like you enjoyed the historical aspects of this novel most of all. Life was so hard back then, especially for women. This is the type of book that would make me feel fortunate to be living in a more modern time. Excellent review!

    1. I'm a history fanatic even more than a Tudor fanatic, Susan. If I hadn't been an English teacher, my next choice would have been history teacher :)

  4. I read a bit about Margaret in the Kate Emerson's HIstory of the Tudors series of novels, which I recommend. I was also awed and dismayed by the amount of politics and the fate of women as pawns in the political system. Nice interview.

    1. I've read a lot about Henry and Anne, Henry's other wives, his three legitimate children, Mary, Elizabeth and Edward. But, I definitely enjoy a look at some of the so-called "minor characters" of the Tudor era and at court. I'll definitely take a look at Emerson's work :) Thanks for the recommendation!!