The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes
It is the hot new trend in historical fiction: The War of the Roses. The Tudors are so passe. Oh, except Margaret Campbell Barnes blends the two by writing about Elizabeth of York: daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, niece of Richard III, sister of the Princes in the Tower, wife of Henry Tudor/Henry VII, mother of Henry VIII. Oh, and also Margaret Campbell Barnes wrote it over 50 years ago. Sourcebooks is releasing this one just at the right time, though, right when interest is high.
I actually think Elizabeth is a really great historical personage to focus on, because she helps us understand the transition between the Plantagenets and the Tudors. She basically connects a whole mess of interesting historical characters. Luckily, she’s fairly interesting herself – at least as Barnes writes her. This Elizabeth was not nearly so wishy-washy as many other authors draw her. With such strong figures for parents, it seems reasonable to me that Elizabeth would have inherited at least a bit of backbone. I found her strong, but not unbelievably so for a woman of her time period.
As with all books set in this place and time, I was especially interested to see how Barnes would treat the question of the Princes in the Tower and Perkin Warbeck. I really liked her answer for Perkin Warbeck. My idea of what happened to the princes has been forever tainted by Sharon Kay Penman so I didn’t totally buy Barnes’ answer for that, but she wrote it plausibly.
Except for a few turns of phrase, “The Tudor Rose” has held up very well over the past 50 years. If you’re looking for a War of the Roses fix, this is a solid, well-told, enjoyable read.