Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mini Review: The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes

Library (now own)
4 out of 5 stars

Elizabeth of York is one of the blander players in the turbulent Wars of the Roses, but Margaret Campbell Barnes did a great job crafting an engaging story despite having limited material with which to work.

I couldn't help but feel utterly disappointed by the cold relationship that never warmed between Henry VII and Elizabeth, but that is hardly MCB's fault (blame Henry VII).

I know, I know, I'm always going on about historical accuracy and not liking liberties taken, but this book would have been fantastic if MCB had taken big liberties and written in a slow burn romance between Henry and Elizabeth.

And then it would have been historically inaccurate and I would have complained.

And swooned!

But complained. And I can't accept historical inaccuracies on such a grand scale, even if my romantic, traitorous heart wishes it so.

So, instead I followed Elizabeth around in her awkwardly NOT first person narrative (third person was used, but it so felt like it should have been first person) as she lamented her loveless husband, her uncomfortable past (I liked how MCB handled the Richard III romance question), and her uncertainty over the fates of her brothers and the identity of the pretenders.

While this isn't all battles and pomp, I absolutely loved it. Elizabeth came alive as a person, and her thoughts, hopes, dreams, and fears were so palpable. I especially liked how MCB approached the issue of the pretenders. Elizabeth's reactions and torn loyalties were spot on to how I would imagine them to be and described in a way that I ached for her.

While this book is, at its heart, about Elizabeth, The Tudor Rose does a great job portraying Henry VII and the political tightrope he walked. So much Plantagenet/Tudor fiction focuses on the big battles and bold personalities, but not much attention is usually placed on this interim period (after the wars, but before the six wives). Which is a crying shame, because this time period is turbulent and tense and jam packed with political intrigue!

Recommended to history fans. I am now on a quest to find more books by MCB, which is proving to be difficult since, outside of The Tudor Rose, none of my libraries carry her books. Oh well, I will prevail, because I am without a doubt reading more of her books.


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