Saturday, November 8, 2014

New Review: Sandra Worth’s THE ROSE OF YORK: LOVE AND WAR – 1st in a Great Trilogy, a Love Story Wrapped in Excellent Historical Fiction

Set in the time of the Wars of the Roses, when the houses of York and Lancaster battled for the throne of England, this the story of two real life lovers, Lady Anne Neville and Richard of Gloucester (the last Plantagenet king). It’s the first in a trilogy based on ten years of thorough research of the life of Richard III of England (1452-1485).

LOVE AND WAR tells of Richard and Anne’s early life, before he became king, when they were first childhood friends and then bonded sweethearts, though still in their teens.

As a young boy, Richard of Gloucester (“Dickon”) is forced to flee England with his cousin, the Earl of Warwick (“the Kingmaker”), to save his life and that of his brother, George, while his older brother Edward stays to fight the Lancasters. When Richard returns at the age of 9, he meets 7-year-old Anne Neville, Warwick’s daughter, and the two children instantly recognize each other as kindred spirits.

Though Anne eventually is forced to marry the Lancaster heir, Edouard, son of Marguerite d’Anjou, he is slain in battle, and she and Richard finally hope to marry. Instead, because of treachery by Richard’s brother George, the couple encounters another devastating obstacle that threatens to part them forever.

You will be amazed at how these young people, as young teens, accomplished so much and carried such a great weight of responsibility. If it weren’t history you would criticize the author for making the young characters seem too adult. But it really happened.

Worth writes well, captures the feel of the late medieval period, and weaves history into an absorbing tale like a rich tapestry. But in telling that history, there is much sadness, too, so be prepared. While the trilogy tells of the love between Richard and Anne (and that of other couples as well), it is not romance in the classic sense. Yes there is a happy ending (at least for this first book), but it is more historical biography or historical fiction that features as a central theme the love story of the main characters. Parts of it are truly depressing, not because of Worth’s storytelling, but because of the tumultuous time in England’s history and an English court the author describes as “rotten with intrigue,” where treachery abounded, good men were betrayed for a king’s whim and slain for the threat they presented, the dreadful Elizabeth Woodville (commoner Queen of England) plotted to end her rivals, and honorable mean were slain.

If you like a lot of history with your love stories and find the wars between the Houses of York and Lancaster fascinating, this is the series for you. The three books form the continuing saga of Richard’s life.

The Rose of York trilogy:


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