Monday 18 July 2022

The Stone Rose by Carol McGrath

(The She-Wolves Trilogy Book 3)
fictional drama
14th Century

"London, 1350. Agnes, daughter of a stonemason, is struggling to keep her father's trade in a city decimated by plague. And then she receives a mysterious message from the disgraced Queen Isabella: mother of King Edward III, and widow of Edward II. Isabella has a task that only Agnes can fulfil. She wants her truth to be told. Much has been whispered of the conflicts in Isabella and Edward's marriage. Her greed and warmongering. His unspoken love for male favourites. But as Agnes listens to Isabella, she learns that she can be of help to the queen - but can either woman choose independence, follow her own desires, and survive?
Based on the extraordinary true story of the female stonemason who carved a queen's tomb."

I knew I would enjoy The Stone Rose for Ms McGrath’s impeccable biographical fiction skills…I was even more delighted to be so enthralled with her creative narrative that brings this complex period of history to life. The depth and detail of Ms McGrath’s research gives us enlightening insights to draw our own opinions of Edward and Isabella, their ambitions, weaknesses and terrible mistakes. 

The Stone Rose brings us into the centre of medieval politics and machinations, and bursting with a massive cast of characters, Isabella’s story is one that takes time and concentration to fully appreciate. Ms McGrath’s impressive skills guide us on the queen’s journey capably and with authority, and I learned a great deal about this time.

That being said, my true joy in this novel was the story of Agnes, who starts with her own precipitous journey through plague-ruined England. In contrast to the ebullience and restlessness of the court, Agnes takes us into a world as spare and unyielding as the stones she carves, and I would have enjoyed even more of her world. Both stories intertwine to illustrate the enduring power of women – both Isabella and Agnes find a way to survive and thrive in what is essentially an unforgiving and challenging world.

Ms McGrath has written a fascinating and memorable novel, with beautiful narrative, enthralling characters and immersive detail. These women’s stories will stay with me for a long time, as I think about the full spectrum of medieval world. 

The Stone Rose is a window into that world that I highly recommend.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Elizabeth St John
 e-version reviewed

No comments:

Post a Comment

We do not accept comments. If you need to contact Discovering Diamonds go to the CONTACT facility

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.