Thursday, February 3, 2011
It is 1497. The news of the survival of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, has set royal houses ablaze with intrigue and rocked the fledgling Tudor dynasty. With the support of Scotland's King James IV, Richard-known to most of England as Perkin Warbeck-has come to reclaim his rightful crown from Henry Tudor. Stepping finally onto English soil, Lady Catherine Gordon has no doubt that her husband will succeed in his quest.
But rather than assuming the throne, Catherine would soon be prisoner of King Henry VII, and her beloved husband would be stamped as an imposter. With Richard facing execution for treason, Catherine, alone in the glittering but deadly Tudor Court, must find the courage to spurn a cruel monarch, shape her own destiny, and win the admiration of a nation. -- Berkley
You might have noticed that I haven't been reading quite as much historical fiction as I did in the past. It's not that I don't still enjoy it, but I noticed that I wasn't appreciating these books quite as much as I used to. I decided to take some time off from all of the kings and queens to see I could get back that "loving feeling." After a few month break, I decided to try again with the new novel PALE ROSE OF ENGLAND by Sandra Worth. While I enjoyed this novel, I have to admit that it wasn't an easy read for me. It could have been my mood or it could have been the subject matter, but I'm pretty sure that it wasn't this novel's fault. I think PALE ROSE OF ENGLAND is a good example of quality historical fiction, and it will appeal to many fans of Tudor Books.
PALE ROSE OF ENGLAND tells the story of Lady Catherine Gordon, a very strong woman who certainly didn't have an easy life (although it was an interesting one.) The majority of this novel deals with her marriage to Perkin Warbek who claimed he was Richard Plantagenet, the rightful heir to the English crown. When the novel begins, Catherine and Richard/Perkin are determined to challenge Henry Tudor and take back the crown that they believe belongs to Richard. Unfortunately, things go awry! Their plan falls apart, their son is taken from them, and Richard is imprisoned. It wasn't at all what Catherine and Richard were expecting based on the prophecy that Catherine received as a girl.
The book continues to follow Catherine's life after the death of her first husband. Catherine shows amazing strength and perseverance as well as an undying love for Richard -- even to the point of rejecting the king's proposal of marriage. Despite having a broken heart, Catherine eventually realizes that she has to move on with her life rather than focusing on her past. She marries again -- it doesn't go so well; and then she marries one more time -- it's definitely a better match. However, through it all, the reader sees that Catherine is indeed an incredibly bright and savvy woman. She never gives up hope to see her son again, and she never wavers in her belief that Richard was indeed Richard Plantagenet.
A little over a year ago, I read another one of Ms. Worth's books THE KING'S DAUGHTER (my review.) I really enjoyed this novel and was extremely impressed with the author's writing as well as the amount of research she conducted. All of the things that I enjoyed about THE KING'S DAUGHTER definitely still existed in PALE ROSE OF ENGLAND. I thought the subject matter, especially the parts about Richard's quest to take back the throne, were very interesting; and there is no doubt that Ms. Worth knows her stuff about the Tudors. However, this book just didn't resonate with me quite as much as THE KING'S DAUGHTER. For some reason, I just never felt an affinity with Catherine like I had hoped. She always seemed a little distant to me, and for that reason, the book just didn't reach that next level for me.
I do think PALE ROSE OF ENGLAND would make an interesting book club pick. There is a reading guide available on Ms. Worth's website which has some great discussion questions. In addition to debating whether Richard really was Richard Plantagenet, you could discuss love, motherhood, faith, marriage, and English politics in the late 1400s/early 1500s.
PALE ROSE OF ENGLAND was a very good book and one that I recommend to fans of historical fiction, and especially fans of Tudor fiction. I enjoyed it and definitely appreciated it, but it wasn't my favorite of Ms. Worth's books.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.