Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Rose of York - Love and War by Sandra Worth

The more I read about the early monarchs, the more I'm convinced - a lot of them were loony birds. They were paranoid (probably because most of their extended families wanted them dead), often delusional, unable to form stable relationships after being raised by multiple people in multiple places usually amongst a war for dominance, forcing them to grow up too fast. I wonder, can they be blamed for their erratic behavior after such odd and bizarre upbringings?

Richard the III is no different from these. I've seen how he's depicted in Shakespeare's plays. His hump, his paranoid and murdering behaviors are legendary. Author Sandra Worth's depiction here argues that may not be true about him. Was Shakespeare's view skewed by the reigning, rival Tudors? He may have been handsome. A shy product of his violent environment. In love with a beautiful woman as depicted on the cover of her book, Love and War.

I'm a big fan of John Waterhouse paintings. A lot of authors use them for covers. In fact when I notice a Waterhouse on the front, I have a hard time resisting a book's contents, regardless of how good it may or may not be (the one below was on Mistress Shakespeare.)

His paintings of mainly women are so lovely and filled with emotion. He had a way with catching just the right expression, the slope of a shoulder, how their hands lay atop each other. And I've always wondered who the woman was he painted the most. Her face and red hair. Her absolutely flawless pink skin. Talk about giving me a complex!

While I thought the cover of this one beautiful, I had a hard time stomaching it as Richard III sitting there with his lovely Anne Warwick, the woman it took him nearly a decade to marry amidst the war between the Roses. I thought more of this knightly clad hero as his earlier ancestor, a younger John of Gaunt and his mistress and eventually third wife, the beautiful Katrine - who also had red hair. Worth's take on Richard and Anne is obviously modeled after their lives, and from a favorite book of mine by Anya Seton entitled Katherine, about their courtship and later marriage.

In truth, Love and War, is much more about the history of the epic battle between York and Lancaster than it is about Richard and Anne. And I liked that because I'm a big English history buff. But the love stories themselves seemed more like filler than anything, definitely running second to the battles and treason that took place during the time period. Maybe that story line evolves more in the second and third books in the series.

So don't be fooled by the cover! If you want a fantastic love story amidst war and strife, read Katherine. If you want to learn about the history of the War of the Roses, read this one, the first in The Rose of York trilogy.

And most importantly, wear sun screen so you'll have beautiful skin like the ladies in these pictures!

We can dream anyway...
3 stars


Nina said...

Yeah, great review. This one sounds just right for me. I am a totally history nut, well duh I am studying history! :) And I adore the pictures, they are so beautiful!!

Tanja said...

Are you planning on reading the rest of the series? I will second you on katherine. Everyone should read that book.

Lula O said...

Thanks Nina! That War of the Roses is really interesting stuff. I would recommend it on that score alone. But who needs great kissing when a bloody battle ensues?? Me! Read Katherine. Seriously that is a fantastic book.

Tanja, I think I will eventually, just to see what happens. The end of this one, Richard is still not king. Ah, Katherine. You led me on the straight and true path with that one.

Anonymous said...

I love Waterhouse as well - Pre-Raphaelites in general. I would love to go to the Tate Gallery in London one day and see his works.

TheBlackSheep said...

Sounds really good. That cover might be damaging the book though. I took one look and thought it must be a soppy romance of the not all too great kind.

Lula O said...

It would really be something to see his works. I'd no idea where they were displayed. And yes, Blacksheep it does look sappy doesn't it. It wasn't too bad though. Like I said, mainly lots of iron clad men fighting and betraying each other.