Friday, May 20, 2011

Lady of the Roses

I read another book by Sandra Worth, I have enjoyed her books about characters from the War of the Roses. My last post was about Richard III, and this one is about his mentor and friend John Neville. John is a Yorkist and is the brother of Warwick-Warwick is the one who helped put Edward on the throne in place of King Henri and Marguerite D'Anjou. After Edward's death, Richard reigned for a short time. This book centered on that same time period, but was about Isobel and her husband John. They met at a dance when she was just 15 years old; she was a ward of Marguerite D'Anjou and was to go to court to be wed. They shared one dance, and when Isobel discovered he supported the Yorkist side, she left.

At this time the country was in an upheaval over their monarchs. King Henri was mad, and was often locked up and isolated in his tower. His wife, Queen Marguerite, ruled in his stead along with her lovers and favorites. Their young son was often by his mother's side, learning her cruel ways. She became known as the Bitch of Anjou. King Henri was the third son (I believe), and it was believed that the Duke of Lancaster, an elder son, had more legitimacy and claim to the throne. So there was the divide of Lancaster and the Yorks. Since Isobel was a ward of Queen Marguerite, she was supposedly on the York side. While at Court, she befriended the Queen and served her for a time. John Neville came again in a peace treaty with his brother Warwick, and Isobel fell in love with him. Through much persuasion, they were able to get permission from the Queen to wed. They had to pay a hefty sum since John was on the Lancaster side, but they were married shortly after.

For pretty much the rest of their marriage, Isobel stays behind with their 5 daughters and 1 son, while John serves the King. It comes to pass that Warwick, John's brother, is able to put Edward on the throne and they hold mad King Henri in a sort of prison. Things are peaceful for a time, but then King Edward marries Elizabeth Woodville in secret. Many are upset at this match, because not only is she a commoner, but the King went against the peoples' wish to make a marriage treaty with France or Burgundy. Warwick sees that he can't control his King, and he works with his brother John for the peace of the realm. Soon dissatisfaction multiplies as King Edward follows his wife the Queen's advice over that of Warwick. He plots to overthrow Edward and put his brother Charles in his place. When that fails, because Charles turns his coat in battle and joins his brother, Warwick has to flee for a time.

Things become dire when King Edward starts taking peerages and titles from his hard-working and dutiful subjects (like John) and gives them away to his brothers or his wife's family. Warwick becomes enraged at the power Elizabeth holds, and he goes to his old enemy Marguerite of Anjou and bows to her. He hopes to make a treaty with her to put mad King Henri back on the throne. She waits too long to come to his aid, and Warwick is alone and abandoned by her and Louis of France. John is now forced to choose sides-that of the Lancasters Mad King Henri with his brother Warwick, or with the Yorks-King Edward. He chooses to stay with his King, even though he has treated him badly and unfairly. Many people at this time took treason quite seriously. If you swore to serve your King, then turned to serve another, many were beheaded for this.

Isobel is a pivotal character in this novel-she is the woman who is always there for John and loves him deeply. She takes care of their many manors and their children. Although women in this time weren't too involved in politics, it still affected them deeply as their men went to war. Her uncle also became known as the Butcher of England. He had many killed in gruesome and sad ways. Isobel had a hard time getting over this, and many people judged her for her uncle's actions. In the last big battle in this book, John decides to join his brother Warwick and fights on his side. He lets his little friend, the King's brother Richard by, as he does not want to fight him. He dies fighting with his brother, against his King. He was torn apart by the choice he had to make-they later found that he was wearing the colors of the King. He tried to be loyal to both to the end. Throughout the book he is always striving for peace, and wants justice. But sadly, the women of this time-Marguerite and Queen Elizabeth-ruled savagely and cruelly over their men.

I liked this book because I got to know more characters from this time, and also saw another side to Queen Elizabeth. She was the mother of the princes that disappeared in the tower, and were later believed to be murdered by their uncle Richard. I always felt pity for her, but this book showed me another side of her that was grasping, greedy and cruel. If anyone slighted or insulted her, she found a way to get back at them. This book had many battles, no swearing, and some very short love scenes. If you are interested in learning more about the battle the war of the roses, this is a good one. Not much is know historically about Isobel, other than that she remarried, but requested to be buried upon her death with her first husband John. We suppose that theirs was a true love match. She also braved a few attempts at disguise in attempts to save her husband.


  1. This is such a cute blog you've made!! I am very much NOT a reader, but I do like to read what books are about! Maybe if I keep up on your blog, you'll convince me to read something! I don't know about the historical stuff though. It sounds very hard to keep track of all the info, and I've never been good with history. It sure is interesing though. :)

  2. I never liked history in school either, but I love it now. Thanks!