In a way, The Red Queen is two novels-two simmering storylines set centuries apart yet entwined through one legacy. Showcasing her renowned imaginative powers, Margaret Drabble now plumbs a collage of worlds, from the private rooms of a Korean crown princess to a fateful conference in Seoul that unlocks a scholar's heart and mind.
While on a research grant at Oxford, Barbara Halliwell receives an unexpected package, shipped anonymously from an online bookseller. Though she is unable to determine who sent her this gift, she is intrigued and brings it with her en route to an international public-health meeting, where she is slated to present a paper. At thirty-six thousand feet, wishing she weren't in the plane's economy class, Dr. Halliwell begins reading the mysterious memoir. Written more than two hundred years ago, it recounts the extraordinary life of Crown Princess Hyegyong, who lived under a tragic regime that left her a widow and grieving mother. As the princess describes the details of an era steeped in ritual and banished emotions, Dr. Halliwell is determined to learn more, unaware that the princess has chosen her to give voice to this remarkable story. And as the princess narrates her life, Margaret Drabble narrates the tender love affair that emerges from Dr. Halliwell's journey.
A novel of abundant wit and arresting turns, The Red Queen brims with intriguing facets. We hope that the following questions and topics will enhance your discussion of this mesmerizing novel.
The Red Queen