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The Tudor Rose    by Margaret Campbell Barnes order for
Tudor Rose
by Margaret Campbell Barnes
Order:  USA  Can
Sourcebooks, 2009 (1953)

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* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

This is a lovely story about Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, in the time of the Wars of the Roses. We observe the intrigue in the palace, but we also learn how women, who were totally powerless, could still influence the course of events. Elizabeth's mother, who is not royally born, constantly feels she must prove her position, and since she ruthlessly conspires to further her family right up to her death, she is not well liked.

Young Elizabeth has a different way about her. Much is made of how she comes from the passionate Plantagenets, yet she takes as her motto Humble and Reverent. She learns early how little say she has in her future, being first rejected by the Dauphin of France, then romanced, dangerously, by Richard III and finally, married to the efficient but cold Tudor, Henry VII. Much of her life is spent wondering what truly happened to her brothers, Edward V and Richard, who were spirited to the towers by Richard III to assure his reign and who were never heard of again. She often falls prey to her passions but always recollects herself and acts in the best interests of her country and family. Her personality is pleasing, and all people are drawn to her. Because of this she is accepted and loved at all levels of society.

The one really enigmatic figure of this time is Richard III. It is hard to understand how the conflicting tales about his personality can come together in one person. On the one hand he is ruthless in his quest for power, on the other he is wonderfully considerate of others around him. Author Barnes gives us an interesting perspective of Richard, making his actions more plausible than I have read in other novels of this time. The author also has a gift for showing how it must be to be born to a large family and what royal life is like for such a family. Knowing when to speak and what to say is critical, and over the course of the novel we follow Elizabeth's schooling in this life and come to understand how much her compassion for her fellow man distinguishes her from many of the other players in this time of history.

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