The Forgotten Queen is an interesting historical novel about an often overlooked member of the Tudor clan, Margaret, Queen of Scotland. Tudor historicals seem to be in abundance, so this book is a great way to look at another angle of the story. The problem is, it doesn’t seem to actually know what story it is supposed to be telling. The chronology of the story is sometimes difficult to follow, with jumps of entire years happening with no indication that they happened at all. To further complicate the matter was the biographical nature of the work, the insistence to cover her entire life. Unfortunately, that left the reader with spots that were more detailed than they needed to be, or in other instances they were not detailed enough. I honestly feel it would have worked better as multiple novels, allowing the reader more time to get acquainted with specific periods of Margaret’s life.
We start with her as a young girl, which was about the only time I really connected with her as a character. She promptly informed the priest that women should have been held responsible for Adam’s stupidity, because he could have made up his own mind about the situation. In hindsight, this sets up an interesting parallel to her own life, where she makes one bad life decision after another. Things start out fine. Her arranged marriage to the King of Scotland isn’t nearly as terrible as she thought it was going to be. Because, you know, even if he’s not perfect, at least he comes home. Eventually. Most times. She also happens to start talking like a Scot fairly quickly. Guess she didn’t really like being English as much as she thought she did.
Anyway, after Jamie dies, things go from bad to worse. She was given regency until her son came of age as long as she remained single. Regency she almost immediately gave away to the first man who batted his eyelashes at her and told her she was pretty. Seriously, if I was Scotland, I wouldn’t trust her in charge either. What happened to the strong, independent young girl who thought men were not nearly as great as they think they are? Apparently she died sometime along with Jamie and the rest of Margaret’s self-respect.
Not only that, but Margaret quickly becomes narcissistic and self-indulgent. She wants everything to be about her, and then whines and acts surprised when she’s forced to acknowledge that there is a world outside of her. Probably the most horrific instance of this is when her “best friend,” her beloved servant, is dying for years and she won’t even grant the woman the decency to go see her family one last time. Then she acts shocked when the woman’s lover resents her for it and insists that at the very least the family be allowed to bury the body as they please. She claims that everything she does over the course of her lifetime is in the best interest of her son, but there are times it seems like she isn’t even thinking about her son at all. If she really wanted to be thinking about her son, she would have stayed away from the man who proposed a secret marriage. What happened to the intelligent young girl from the beginning of the book?