THE ROSE OF YORK: LOVE AND WAR
Sandra Worth


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Republished with Metropolis Ink/End Table Books, Oct 2003
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

Historical, Wars of the Roses

Richard and Anne are nobility, meaning their families marry for policy, not love. Worse yet, Richard’s father and brother are leading a rebellion which ends in Richard’s brother becoming king. In the midst of this chaos, two lost children find each other, and never let go.

The civil war was named the Wars of the Roses, because the opponents were different branches of the same family, symbolized by a red rose on one side and a white rose on the other. We first find little Richard, of the white rose Yorks, forced by the death of his father to flee from England, while his big brother Edward fights for and wins the throne. When it is safe in England again, Richard is sent to his powerful uncle Warwick to learn knighthood. Warwick’s daughter Anne teaches Richard to be less afraid, because she needs his protection and understanding. Warwick’s brother John teaches him honor and the duties of a younger brother. Richard grows up to be his brother King Edward’s most reliable helper, and an advocate of people who are helpless and in need.

Edward doesn’t make it easy for Richard. All the greedy vultures tearing at the body of England are family, and Edward finds it impossible to discipline them. The love between Richard and Anne means nothing to an aristocracy used to seeing Richard as a political force and Anne as pawn and heiress. The appalling measures used to keep them apart really happened, and Richard’s battle to win his Anne in spite of everything is one of the most moving love stories of history.

Author Sandra Worth has an extraordinary achievement in her characterization of Richard. Reading it, I had the feeling of a living being whose mind I could touch. This little boy learns early to expect death: I cried at the completely believable scene in which Richard recognizes that nothing at all is safe. His alliance with Anne is the mutual understanding between two children thrown too high by their ambitious families, higher than their retiring personalities can ever be comfortable with. The reader sees how Richard’s early life forced him to know his own helplessness. It was a great achievement that such a man was eventually able to recognize his own worthiness to be king, and probably too much to ask that he rule in difficult times with the right balance of kindness and firmness. These were things I didn’t consciously realize about Richard until Worth brought them to my mind. We see in LOVE AND WAR the young man who will rule justly and eventually be brought down by forgiving his enemies too much.

Certain other major characters in LOVE AND WAR, to a lesser extent, share the brilliant sense of reality that Worth has brought to Richard. Richard’s uncle John, a war hero who teaches Richard his own submission to honor and family duty, is an especially moving example. Anne comes into her own as a young teenager, in love but captive to her father’s maneuvering for power. Many other characters, all of whom really lived more than 500 years ago, are explained so well that we must believe as we read, this really is why they behaved as they did.

Fifteenth century England is brought vividly before our eyes by Sandra Worth’s writing. Occasionally I felt her descriptions went into too much detail, but this is balanced by her ability to show more than one level of reality. For example, there is a scene between Warwick and his brother John, before a battle. We not only hear and feel the hollow echo of conversation in an early morning fog; behind it is the hollow echo of accepted doom between two men who know they have gone too far to back out.

LOVE AND WAR is the result of the author’s years of immersion in the study of Richard and his times. She teaches classes on the subject and writes articles for publications focused on Richard. LOVE AND WAR deservedly won the Authorlink Grand Prize in manuscript form and is now being released in hardcover. LOVE AND WAR is the first of a trilogy called The Rose Of York, to be followed by CROWN OF DESTINY. The last book in the series is FALL FROM GRACE. All three are award winners.

May 2003 Review

[Note: As of May, 2006, LOVE AND WAR has won ten writing awards.]

 

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