Saturday, March 8, 2008

Lady Of The Roses Book Review

History is never more alive than when explored through a fictional accounting. With extensive research and a passion for an era, an author can enlighten readers and pay homage to the past. Sandra Worth does so in her novel "Lady of the Roses." This intense work of art brings life to English history during the times of the War of the Roses with as much rich vibrancy as the castle tapestries that are woven into the tale.
A classic love story, and one that was likely the inspiration for many others that we know and cherish, Sir John Neville and Lady Isobel Ingoldesthorpe's tale is exquisitely bittersweet. At fifteen, Isobel was orphaned and became a ward of Queen Marguerite and King Henry VI. Her marriage would bring a decent price for the queen, but Isobel boldly requested that she be married for love instead. Such a thing was truly rare in the days of arranged marriages. Isobel was drawn by fate to meet John, and her heart would not be happy until they were wed. Favors do cost when bequeathed by royalty. During the struggle for marriage greater struggles were occupying the lands. Battles raged and many lives were lost. The red rose rivaled the white as brother fought brother, cousin slay cousin, and friends became foes. Treason was the common crime for those in dungeons and for those beheaded. How it came to be that Isobel and John were able to wed and live life through it all is a great tale.
Titles changed with the blowing of the wind and the troubles this caused, and heartache it inspired are worthy of a modern day soap opera. With such changes the futures of the young heirs changed as well, with marriages being arranged at birth and carried out at even the age of eight. The king's throne being the highest in ruling the land, many questioned the sanity of a queen's influence. The lifetime of this novel shows the insanity of two queens who essentially ruled the throne and subsequently caused many deaths and sorrows. The years of 1456 through 1476 are played out in "Lady of the Roses" with the intensity of battle and the decadence of pure love.
Sandra Worth has brought to life Sir John Neville, of whom no biography has yet to be found, but much is accounted to and admired for. Her research of his deeds and character are plain to be seen. Dear Isobel, our narrator, becomes a cherished companion to the reader. Seeing the times and strife through the eyes of first a young girl of fifteen and then as a young woman in love, and later as a mother and dedicated wife truly opens a window into the past. The writing is rich with precise details, lush scenery, and blunt bloodshed. Weaving in the authorship of the unparalleled tales of King Arthur and Sir Lancelot is a delightful inclusion. I look forward to further reading of this accomplished author.
Heather Froeschl is an author, award winning editor, and book reviewer, at

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