Wars of the Roses
The Wars of the Roses has been written about as fact and fiction in countless books, but what I find so fascinating – for fiction – is that every novel has a different view, a different perspective. That is what is so fascinating about historical fiction; one author can write one angle, another, something entirely the opposite – yet both can be absorbing reads.
Ms Hokin’s Blood and Roses is from the view of the wife of Henry VI, Margaret of Anjou, and focuses, in part, on the view of the women involved in the turmoil of this unsettling, worrying and often tragic period of English history, most of which happen in the background of the story – for obviously the women, even queens, did not avail themselves to political machinations, negotiations or the inevitable battles which followed the failures of the former. The action happens as Margaret hears of it through news carried by messengers or tittle-tattled gossip, we learn what is happening as she does, and witness her reactions through thoughts that are in her mind. We see, hear of, experience, everyday life through her sheltered one. We cope as she copes, we laugh, cry, feel fear alongside her.
Does the author’s idea of writing like this work? In part yes, in part no – although an overall answer will probably depend on the taste of individual readers. Changes of allegiance from one side to the other become a little confusing – but then they were probably just as confusing in that life-turned-upside-down period anyway! For the reader, a list of characters for York and Lancaster and who was on which family tree would have been useful (although these do not always reproduce clearly in e-book versions)
An action-packed thrill-a-page novel this is not. An interesting exploration into Margaret’s life and marriage it is – and a very good exploration at that.
© Ellen Hill