Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes

Title: The Tudor Rose, A Novel of Elizabeth of York
Author: Margaret Campbell Barnes
ISBN: 9781402224683, Sourcebooks Landmark, 2009
Contains Reading Group Guide
Genre: UK Historical Fiction
Rating: C+

First Line: A long-drawn sigh of feminine ecstasy filled the room as the white velvet was lifted from its wrappings.

Not long ago, I read Philippa Gregory's tale of Elizabeth Woodville in The White Queen, so it's fitting that I now follow that up with the life of her daughter, Elizabeth of York, the first Tudor queen.

Margaret Campbell Barnes turns out a well-written workmanlike tale, beginning with the young Elizabeth, newly betrothed to the Dauphin of France, taking the first look at her wedding clothes. The duplicitous French change their minds about the marriage, and the next few years have Elizabeth acting as a buffer between her siblings and their highly emotional mother.

When Elizabeth's beloved father, Edward IV, dies, her education truly begins. With Edward's brother, Richard, on the throne, the young girl learns just what people are capable of when the pursuit of power is involved. She loathes Richard, blames him for all her family's misfortune, and offers herself in marriage to Henry Tudor. Elizabeth of York wants revenge.

However, she's also a young female who yearns for love in her marriage. Unfortunately she finds none with Henry. Henry has had to live cautiously his entire life and now that he's on the throne, he intends to stay there. He carefully studies each gesture, each move, to make sure it's carried out to its greatest effect. He watches every penny in an effort to rebuild the depleted treasury. Marriage to Elizabeth, in Henry's practical mind, is nothing but a business transaction. As the years pass, Elizabeth learns what her husband is capable of in the pursuit of power.

Elizabeth's life is all there: from her days as a young girl, through her marriage, her coronation, and her motherhood. For me, the book didn't start picking up steam until the last third of the book when Barnes let me know what she thought happened to Elizabeth's brothers, the Princes in the Tower. It's almost as if Elizabeth spent so much of her life guarding her thoughts and her reactions that it stripped most of the color from her life's story. The end result is a book that's good but not great.

I've become a fan of Margaret Campbell Barnes' historical fiction, but The Tudor Rose was just a bit too bland for me. One Barnes' novel that I can recommend whole-heartedly is King's Fool which deals with Elizabeth of York's son, Henry VIII. What a contrast! Unlike his mother, I don't think Henry VIII ever had a guarded thought or desire his entire life!

*Review copy provided by Sourcebooks Landmark.


  1. Too bland you so, dunno about this book then but others are worth a try

  2. I love historical fiction, and one of our book clubs has quite a few fans. . . I've noticed that on occasion they can really captivate, but they really can fall flat too.

    Great review ~ Wendi


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