The Lady of Roses by Sandra Worth
Silent words fell from my heart, and,bartering with the Fates, I sought a gift and made a promise ~ Lady of the Roses: A Novel of the Wars of the Roses
Historical fiction author Sandra Worth is a modern day troubadour. Through her meticulously researched work, she sings the stories of kings and queens, knights and their ladies, bringing to the fore people of the past to speak to us today. In this lyrical novel, Worth recounts the story of Isobel Ingoldesthorpe, a ward of Marguerite of Anjou, and John Neville, the man Isobel loves and marries.
Isobel and John belong to the opposing houses of Lancaster and York and fall in love during an uneasy lull of hostilities between their two houses, hostilities soon to flame into war. Their first meeting, when they give their hearts to one another, is reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. But Fate is kinder to Worth’s two lovers, and listens to Isobel when she barters for her destiny. She gains her heart’s desire, promising to pay the cost, no matter what grief comes her way.
Unlike Romeo and Juliet, John and Isobel are duty bound to their respective houses; paramount to them is to not to go against the wishes of Lancaster and York. They achieve their heart’s desire only by charm, persuasion and a great deal of family love; John’s father is willing to pay Marguerite of Anjou’s hefty price for Isobel’s hand to his son. In Isobel’s case, she had the seemingly impossible task of convincing the Neville hating Queen Marguerite to approve her marriage. When they marry, John and Isobel must grapple throughout their lives with the pull of loyalty.
Isobel and John are perfectly matched – they are brave and self-sacrificing, both leaders in their own ways. They see more clearly than others the terrible road before them, one they must follow because of duty and fidelity.
From the front line of battle and the political intrigue of Court, Worth’s Richard III series played out a family and country divided and the cost of war through the eyes of her male protagonist, the everyman cast upon the rocks of terrible times to a terrible cost to himself. This time we have the other side of the coin – the everywoman.
Through Isobel’s sensitive and intelligent eyes, Lady of Roses gives us the perspective of the women who must wait and keep home fires burning, striving for normality, bearing, raising, and burying children, while they know their men fight for their lives. Waiting for news from the battlefront, they also dread it. The sound of a horse galloping in the wind could bode heartbreak and darkness falling on their lives for ever.
The hallmarks of Sandra Worth’s novels are her thorough research of her historical characters and their period. In Lady of Roses, Worth must be commended yet again. She always tells an emotive and well drawn story while not sacrificing what we know as historical truths. The respect and love she has for her characters shines throughout her writing. Lady of Roses is a beautiful, romantic, heart wrenching story of love triumphing over all that is put in its way.