#202 ~ The Tudor Rose

Cover of The Tudor Rose

The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes

After finishing Philippa Gregory’s latest novel about Elizabeth Woodville, The White Queen, I was eager to pick up the story of Elizabeth of York, Elizabeth Woodville’s daughter.  Most of the Tudor fiction I have read to date focused on happenings after her death, so I didn’t feel very familiar with her.  The Tudor Rose focuses on Elizabeth’s life just before the time of her death until well into her last pregnancy.  Her life is constantly in upheaval, even while her siblings are taken into a prison-like sanctuary by their mother after Edward IV’s death.  She finds herself fancying a young man sent often to their sanctuary with supplies and messages, but she fears that she may never know love.  She sees this for reality after it is reported that her brothers, King Eward V and Richard of Shrewsbury are announced dead.  As the eldest of Edward IV’s children, Elizabeth’s hand in marriage is a pawn used to gain power.  She uses the small influence she has to seek revenge against the man she blames for her brother’s death.  She never stops longing for her brothers, nor does she ever stop hoping for love.

ElizabethofYorkReading novels featuring the same historical figures written by different authors in close proximity is an interesting experience.  The White Queen focuses on the elder Elizabeth, but both Elizabeth’s are very much a part of The Tudor Rose.  Gregory paints Elizabeth Woodville with a much kinder brush than Campbell Barnes.  In The Tudor Rose, Elizabeth Woodville is so ruled by her emotions that she is nearly incapable of being the brilliant schemer for which she is credited for being.  While I’m certain that she had her flaws (and I enjoyed the way that Gregory brought them out) Campbell Barnes clearly subscribes to the traditionally negative view of Edward IV’s wife.  While I found that somewhat off-putting as a emerging fan of Elizabeth Woodville, being raised by Elizabeth Woodville most definitely had an impact on Elizabeth of York and any novel featuring her must take that into account.  Campbell Barnes used her mother’s reputation to flesh out her Tudor rose and I really enjoyed her character.

My favorite scenes in this novel all take place after the death of the princes when Elizabeth of York is doing all that she can to discover what really happened.  Using the trunk of dress up clothes in the sanctuary was an interesting way to provide Elizabeth with the means to discover information she would not have otherwise known as well as play an active and independent role in the downfall of the man responsible for what happened to her brothers.  I nearly held my breath through one scene where she is trying to sneak back to her room after leaving the castle.  It is during scenes like that where Campbell Barnes’ writing and story telling shine.

The Tudor Rose is the second book I’ve read and enjoyed by Margaret Campbell Barnes.  The first novel I read was My Lady of Cleves.  I found her storytelling to be consistent between the two.  She is thorough and builds the story over time as it is less important to her than the characters themselves.  Both of the women in the novels I’ve read lived in what could be dire circumstances.  While the author does not spare them from the real pain they must have experienced, she does not torture them unnecessarily, either.  I had feared for Elizabeth’s relationship with Lady Margaret Beaufort, but the way that her mother-in-law was written was refreshing.  While I did not tear through either novel, I found them both comforting in that I could put them down without having to worry about losing the narrative while I was away.  If you love Historical Fiction or the Tudors, you cannot go wrong by picking up this book.


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  • At 2009.10.05 08:59, Nicole said:

    I loved My Lady of Cleves, so I am happy to hear that the writing is consistent throughout her novels. I am looking forward to reading this one, and I though I would have gotten to it sooner, but you know how that goes. I don’t have very much experience with any of the tudor wives besides the little blurbs that I have had from history class so even though I won’t be able to make any comparisons I am looking forward to enjoying these stories

    • At 2009.10.05 09:02, Meghan said:

      Possibly the one thing that bugged me about this book was the reappearance of the stereotyped Woodvilles. I don’t see how Margaret Campbell Barnes could have thought differently at the time, though, so it didn’t bother me TOO much.

      • At 2009.10.05 09:10, Lezlie said:

        I’m finding that MCB is a pretty reliable author to turn to when I need a historical fiction fix.


        • At 2009.10.05 10:27, A Bookshelf Monstrosity said:

          This sounds like a great companion read to The White Queen. I’m currently reading White Queen right now; this sounds like another great hist-fic! Thanks for your review.

          • At 2009.10.05 11:15, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

            What really surprised me in this book was how sympathetic Margaret Beaufort was! I’ve always read her as a woman colder and crueler than the worst depiction of Elizabeth Woodfield, so this was an interesting change.

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            • At 2009.10.05 11:35, lilly said:

              I just started reading The Tudor Rose and I am glad to hear that you liked it. I think I’ll like it as well. My first book by Barnes was The King’s Fool and I really enjoyed it and if you say that her writing is pretty consistent then I guess i have nothing to fear.

              • At 2009.10.05 12:21, Laura's Reviews said:

                Great review! I’m adding this to my TBR list. I also enjoyed the White Queen by Philippa Gregory and would love read more. Another good book about Elizabeth of York is The King’s Daughter: A Novel of the First Tudor Queen by Sandra Worth.

                • At 2009.10.05 13:29, Kathy said:

                  I enjoy historical fiction, but haven’t felt drawn toward the Tudors. One of our neighbors keeps telling me I must read Philippa Gregory, so I’ll probably cave one of these days.

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                  • At 2009.10.05 15:28, Just Mom said:

                    You make this one sound good! I think I just entered a giveaway for it somewhere but don’t remember where! I just found Pope Joan at our church book sale – I think you might have been the reviewer tha put that one on my TBR list too!

                    • At 2009.10.05 22:34, Literate Housewife said:

                      Nicole, I’m all about the Tudor wives and Anne of Cleves is my fav – and not just because she’s Dutch like me. LOL! I know what you mean about getting around to things. We’re in the same boat.

                      Meghan, I know what you mean. I chalked my feelings up to The White Queen afterglow.

                      Lezlie, which of her other novels have you read?

                      Bookshelf, thanks so much for your comments! I’ll be interested to hear what you think about the two together. I’m glad I read them that way.

                      Jen, I would have been too miserable for Elizabeth had MB been the shrew I was expecting. I’ll be interested to see how PG depicts her.

                      Lilly, I’ll have to pick up a copy of The King’s Fool. Thank you for the suggestion. I think you’ll enjoy this one, too.

                      Laura, I have a copy of The King’s Daughter. I bought it after Jen reviewed it. It’s one of those books I never get around to reading because I have so much else in the way. I’ll be sure to move that up to the top of my JFM (just for me) pile.

                      Kathy, one of your neighbors? How about one of your book blogging buddies? Get on the stick, woman! 🙂

                      Just Mom, good luck in the giveaway. I’ll be hosting one later this week. I haven’t read Pope Joan yet, but I did post about her red carpet giveaway. I’ll be reading that one soon – maybe I’ll pick that one for our January read on Facebook.

                      • At 2009.10.06 05:25, Veens said:

                        I have read Only one book by this author.. and that was King’s Fool… enjoyed ti very much! I wish I would read more about the Tudors… but never got about reading…
                        I need to.. And I haven’t read anything by Gregory either..ohh my! I need to read a LOT of books b4 I die 😀

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                        • At 2009.10.06 08:06, Lezlie said:

                          I’ve only read My Lady of Cleves, but I’ve got Brief Gaudy Hour here and have read nothing but good things about the previous reissue. (I can’t remember the exact title. The King’s Fool? Something like that.) She seems like you can depend on her for a good read.


                          • At 2009.10.06 17:13, S. Krishna said:

                            I’ve been hearing great things about this book and really want to read it. Thanks for the review!

                            • At 2009.10.06 19:49, Bluestocking said:

                              Thanks for the birthday wishes.

                              • At 2009.10.07 12:21, Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) said:

                                I’m still reading this book, but so far I like it.

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                                • At 2011.06.02 13:11, Betty said:

                                  Two years later and your advice is still appreciated. Thank you! I can’t get enought of Henry VIII and his wives!

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