Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes

The Tudor Rose cover

The Tudor Rose
by Margaret Campbell Barnes

Trade Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: SourceBooks Landmark
First Released: 1953, (re-released 2009)

Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
One woman holds the key to England's most glorious empire.

Elizabeth, the only living descendant of Edward IV, has the most valuable possession in all of England—a legitimate claim to the crown. Two princes battle to win Britain's most rightful heiress for a bride and her kingdom for his own. On one side is her uncle Richard, the last Plantagenet King, whom she fears is the murderer of her two brothers, the would-be kings. On the other side is Henry Tudor, the exiled knight. Can he save her from a horrifying marriage to a cut-throat soldier?

Thrust into the intrigue and drama of the War of the Roses, Elizabeth has a country within her grasp—if she can find the strength to unite a kingdom torn apart by a thirst for power.

The Tudor Rose is a historical fiction set in fifteenth century England. While I enjoyed the story, it was mainly as an enjoyable history lesson rather than as an exciting novel.

I cared about the characters and what happened to them. The world-building was very good with small historical details bringing the time period alive in my imagination. The author also introduced an element of mystery to the story (what happened to the princes?) that kept me reading to see how she would handle it.

However, Elizabeth never had much political influence, so she was a rather passive character. With two notable exceptions in the novel, she was usually doing what others told her to do or reacting to events rather than shaping them. Also, a lot of time was spent with the author telling or the characters discussing what the movers and shakers were doing. Basically, the pacing felt a bit slow because there wasn't much action.

There was no explicit sex or bad language. Overall, those interested in learning more about the War of the Roses and the parents of Henry VIII would probably enjoy this book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
A long-drawn sign of feminie ecstasy filled the room as the white velvet was lifted from its wrappings. Its folds hung heavily across a lady-of-bedchamber's outstretched arms so that every jewelled rose and fleur-de-lys stood out and sparkled in the morning sunlight. Other women, on their knees, reached eager hands to spread the embroidered train. Young Elizabeth of York, standing in her shift and kirtle, shivered with excitement as the dressmaker from France slipped the lovely material over her shoulders; for, princess or no princess, it is not every day that a girl tries on her wedding-dress.

"Oh, how beautiful!" breathed her English attendants.

"Comme elle est ravissante!" eachoed the dressmaker and her underlings.

Because she was not sure whether such spontaneous compliments referred to the dress or to herself, Elizabeth, the king's daughter, called for a mirror.

"But, Bess, it makes you look so different!" complained her younger sister, Cicely, who had been allowed to watch.

Different indeed, confirmed the metal mirror. Where there had been a slip of a girl who still studied her lesson books, there now stood a stately stranger who might one day become Queen of France. The slender immaturity of her body made her look quite tall, the excited colour in her cheeks became her. Being a Plantagenent, Elizabeth had always been casually aware that she was beautiful--but never, surely, so beautiful as this!


Sheila (bookjourney) said...

I think this sounds wonderful! I really have taken to Historical Fiction and this one really does sound good!

Genre Reviewer said...

Shelia, thanks for the comment. I'm glad I was able to introduce you to a book that interests you! Enjoy. :)