I usually enjoy the type of historical fiction where little information is known about the people or subjects. The lack of concrete knowledge allows the author to freely add details and story elements that may or may not have actually occurred.
Queen Hereafter is different in that much is known about Margaret of Scotland. She is an admirable and pious character and the novel’s intent is to further illustrate a portion of her life in finer detail. The novel is very well researched and the historical details are well organized to move the story along. The fictional details King has added feel at home within the history.
The novel begins before Margaret is queen, a daughter of royalty lost in unfamiliar lands, and a young girl who is very content to join the convent and dedicate her life to the church. We learn the details of her marriage and how she feels about marrying an older man and becoming a queen. The novel is crafted as a coming-of-age story chosen carefully to illuminate the change from woman to queen, wife, mother, and caretaker of the people of Scotland.
Margaret learns how to be a queen and a mother, but never loses sight of everything that is important to her. She sticks very close to her faith and is always convincing her husband, Malcolm III, to give more food, clothing, shelter and money to the people. Many times, she goes without and gives her belongings and food to others.
Queen Hereafter explores the ideas of married life, sex, childbirth and motherhood, while also describing a woman who would later be canonized a saint. Margaret’s first priority is always goodwill and she never loses sight of this endeavor; she spends much of her life creating new ways to give to her people – at one point, she even feeds poor children at her own table with her own spoon.
The story within Queen Hereafter is fulfilling and feels whole on it’s own, but also provides an intricate retelling of the time period. It only falls short when you look at it in relation to Margaret’s life. If you know her history, this story is but a brief snapshot of her very full life leaving you wanting much more. The characters are well written and enjoyable. King gives us a Margaret of Scotland who never wavers in her beliefs, but is constantly changing to accommodate everything that is new in her life.
Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Zach.
This book was provided free of any obligation by Crown Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.