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Review: The Tudor Rose, Margaret Campbell Barnes

As the eldest daughter of Edward IV and wife of Henry VII, Elizabeth of York presents a link of continuity between the extravagant Yorkist rule and the more conservative Tudor dynasty.  At one time, two would-be kings competed for England’s crown, and with it Elizabeth’s hand in marriage.  The Battle of Bosworth Field changed the course of history and Elizabeth’s role was in the very center of English politics.  Margaret Campbell Barnes imagines how Elizabeth may have felt and reacted to her pivotal position, giving this occasionally neglected queen a voice of her own in one of the most recently popular periods in English history.

I’ve mentioned before that the Wars of the Roses are the latest popular trend in historical fiction.  I’m fairly pleased with this as it’s my own area of special interest and I like to see how different fiction writers have portrayed all of these characters with whom I am so familiar.  Sourcebooks’ release of The Tudor Rose comes at a perfect time and despite the fact that it was written years ago, it isn’t very dated.  Interestingly, Barnes interprets history in ways that stray wildly from today’s popular positions.  For example, Henry VII’s mother Margaret Beaufort, often portrayed as a tyrant who controlled her son and stifled his wife, is here a friend to Elizabeth, and Elizabeth happily allows Margaret to tend to those nasty administrative tasks that she would rather miss out on.  Elizabeth herself is a charming character.  She is fairly quiet and submissive but she loves deeply and she has a great deal of courage and strength.  As readers, we want her to find love and happiness, because she is clearly so deserving of it.

In terms of plot, The Tudor Rose follows the life of Elizabeth of York from her childhood engagement to the French dauphin to a point within a year of her death.  As such, there isn’t really any sort of tension; many readers will know how the story ends.  It could feel slow, but it’s a very pleasant journey, and a lovely imagining of the late fifteenth century. The book feels rich with detail, fine gowns and palaces, and will surely appeal to those of us who love to read about royalty.  And it’s always worth finding out what another author has done with the Princes in the Tower, particularly given that this book has a long enough timeline to include the revolt against Henry VII by Perkin Warbeck.

In short, The Tudor Rose is a wonderful historical read and well worth curling up with for immersion into another world, if not for those who crave excitement in their books.

Would you like to win a copy of your own?  Sourcebooks is sponsoring a giveaway of one copy to a US or Canadian address.  No P.O. boxes please!  Just leave a comment to enter.  This contest will run until midnight on October 20th. The winner of this contest is Stephanie.

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