Friday, October 16, 2009

The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes (R)

What a difference a year makes in the lives of royalty.  As The Tudor Rose opens, we meet Elizabeth of York, eldest daughter of King Edward IV.  She is getting ready for a wedding to the Dauphin of France, a man she has never met.  Word comes that the marriage offer has been rescinded, and she is comforted by her father.  Secure in the love of her family, she is a happy young woman, easily able to overcome this rejection.

But a year later, her life has changed dramatically.  King Edward has died, and life changes forever.  Her uncle, Richard, who should be serving as protector of the new King, Elizabeth's brother Ned, instead takes the crown for himself.  Worse, he imprisons both Ned and Richard of York, the eight-year-old brother known as Dickon.  Elizabeth and her sisters and mother are living in santuary in a monastery.  They agree to move to the castle under King Richard's protection, but then disaster strikes.  As history fans know, the Princes in the Tower are murdered to eliminate the threat to Richard's crown.

Filled with hate and scorn for her uncle, and knowing that the crown should now be hers, Elizabeth agrees to join forces with Henry Tudor, who has been living in France in exile.  Henry has royal blood to substantiate his claim; he is related to King Arthur of the Roundtable.  With the knowledge that Elizabeth will marry him if he defeats Richard, Henry invades England and kills Richard in battle.  He is crowned King.

Six months later, he marries Elizabeth.  Far from her romantic dreams, it is unclear if he wants her for herself, or just to consolidate the royal bloodlines and end the civil War of The Roses.  Elizabeth is a warm, outgoing woman and marriage to a cold, calculating man like Henry is difficult for her.  They have four children.  Arthur is the eldest, raised to be the next King, while Harry is known now as Henry the Eighth.  Margaret becomes Queen of Scotland, marrying King James.  Mary is the youngest girl. 

While she is content with her life and children, there are always troubles in a royal household.  There are various pretenders to the Crown, and Henry must defend his right to rule.  Two pretenders over the years both claim that, far from being murdered in the Tower, that instead the Princes escaped and that they are Dickton, now grown.   Many rally behind them, and even Elizabeth is torn between her desire to believe her beloved brothers are still alive, and the common sense that knows that they are indeed gone forever. 

The book follows Elizabeth and Henry's life.  It gives an inside look at royal marriages and the restrictions royal women lived with.  It is ifascinating to see the background that produced Henry the Eighth, whose impact on English history was so significant and long-lasting.  This book is recommended for lovers of historical fiction.  Margaret Campbell Barnes has done an excellend job of researching Elizabeth of York's life, and of putting the reader into her shoes to get a glimpse of the obligations and constant manuvering for position those who were royal lived with. 

No comments: