D.L. Bogdan’s The Forgotten Queen is a novel about Margaret Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII. I’d previously read Secrets of the Tudor Court by this author, which is what interested me in The Forgotten Queen, and I was really excited to see what Bogdan did with Margaret. (Oh, and I received an e-ARC for blogging purposes.As awesome as free fiction is, my opinions are not colored by getting a free ARC. For example, this blog post on everything I hated about the ARC of The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett…)
The Forgotten Queen tells the story of Margaret’s life from childhood, through her marriages, and her children. After her divorce from Lord Angus, Margaret remains so focused on young James’ ascension to the throne and her own marital troubles that she barely sees her daughter, Margaret Douglas. Subtly done, and sets the stage for the stories about Margaret Douglas as a young woman, who antagonizes Henry VIII by becoming secretly engaged without his permission. He stopped the wedding and imprisoned her (By the way, when I get confused with the betrothals and pre-contracts and witnesses to secret weddings and annulments later in Tudor England, I just read it as “they totally banged in secret” and “plausible deniability later”.) When she’s let out of the abbey where she’s been locked up for YEARS for getting involved with the wrong man, she immediately falls in love with another wrong man. After that, she probably just started keeping a change of clothes and a toothbrush in the Tower for her visits. Anyway, I think it’s very plausible that a young girl growing up alone would be pretty desperate for affection, and after seeing Margaret and Henry’s tempestuous romances, would go after her own.
I’ve read quite a lot of Tudor fiction and history, and I think I have a pretty good handle on the cast of characters. Margaret, Henry VIII’s elder sister, really is the forgotten queen. She gets a quick mention when she leaves to marry James of Scotland before Henry VIII’s ascension to the English throne, and then Margaret’s line is picked up again when Elizabeth I dies without an heir, and Margaret and James’ descendant, James VI of Scotland, also becomes James the First of England.
I pretty much love any Tudor fiction that doesn’t take too many liberties with the facts. I’m cool with, say, a story that involves a friendship between Anne Boleyn and Leonardo DaVinci. I mean, they both spent time in the French court, and both knew Francis I. So it’s possible, I’ll go with it. I’m not cool with a message getting from Scotland to Paris in a day. No matter how much the plot needs the Auld Alliance restated right then.
Every once in a while, I say how much I love a historical novel, and someone more educated points out that, man, Spanish farthingales weren’t even in fashion until the following year! Probably worth pointing out that I’m a historical fiction lover, not a Tudor scholar. But I thought that Bogdan’s characters eat the right dishes at banquets, their servants dress them in the right fashions, and all messages take the required million years on horseback.
Overall, the characters are well-developed, and the historical setting is accurate. The Forgotten Queen is an unusual story in my favorite time period for escapist fiction reading.