Lady of the Roses: A Novel of the War of the Roses
Set amidst the War of the Roses in 1400s Britain, this historical novel focuses on the story of one Lady Isobel Ingoldesthorpe, an orphan raised in a nunnery and given over to the British court (which will benefit from the price of her marriage). The country is under the leadership of Henry VI, but the country's beloved king is beset by madness and, instead, court and country are ruled by his French wife, Marguerite d'Anjou, whose motives and ambitions are less pure. Isobel and the ruling court are of the House of Lancaster (the Red Rose), while the competing House of York (the White Rose) vies for power.
The House of York and the Neville family are more strongly supported by the British people, presenting a challenge to Queen Marguerite and her grasp for power. Into this precarious political scene enters 15-year old Lady Isobel, who falls in love quite unexpectedly with a Yorkist knight, Sir John Neville. Although Isobel is desired by many, her heart has been stolen, and after much wrangling and an exorbitant price to the court, the Queen finally allows the two to marry.
Drawing from real historical characters and the true story of this marriage, author Sandra Worth has used this fascinating background to extrapolate and enhance upon what is known through historical documents to create this engrossing novel. Despite its reaches far into the British past, Worth has been able to create characters and stories that resonate today. Beset with political treachery and a defiant love story, the historical accuracy and well developed characterization lend much to the book, letting readers focus on the action and adventures of the characters, rather than bogging the plot down.
Readers will relate to the highs and lows of the relationship between John and Isobel, the forces beyond their control that act to determine their destinies, and their everyday struggles (including money problems and long periods of single parenthood) in a world divided between Lancaster and York. Readers are introduced to period detail subtly, enjoying and learning as they progress, instead of being faced with immediate immersion into a heavy handed and unfamiliar culture upon opening the book. Worth has much to offer her readers: great storylines, fascinating characters, and just the right historical touch. Lady of the Roses may be set in the 1400s, but its story and telling are contemporary and easily enjoyed by the readers of 2008.
my book 7 in the Gather 50 Book Challenge for 2008