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 all dream anyway...
3 stars


terry said...

sounds like a good book. why'd they have to go and ruin it by putting some (oog) Romance in it?

L said...

Noooooo, that would be like Clash of the Titans without the metal owl, a bald Perseus, and a black Pegasus. Damn. The stars have aligned for our undoing!

Romance is like Harry Hamlin's long locks of beauty, a little goes a long way.

Julie said...

Waterhouse painting are so lovely! I love how she is deeply smelling that rose in that painting. Amazing! It makes me want to go a smell a rose.

Yay! Thanks for your review, Lula. Nicely written! I love how you always make me smile as I read them. :)

JaneGS said...

Katherine, by Anya Seton, has been on my TBR tbble for months now. I really need to read this!

Great post - I first learned that RIII mightn't have been a baddie in a history class in college, and though I love Shakespeare's play, I've always considered it a hatchet job.

Loved your discussion of the Waterhouse paintings. They are lovely and so evocative of the medieval myth I enjoy so much.

L said...

Thanks Julie and JaneGS! Aren't they beautiful pictures! You should google his name. All kinds of good stuff comes up.