Lady of the Roses

   Posted by: Kevin Herbert   in

Sandra Worth, Lady of the Roses.  Berkley Books, New York, 2008.  ISBN978-0-425-21914-0

This novel by Sandra Worth tells the story of John Neville, Marquis Of Montagu, and his one and only love, Lady Isobel (Bel) Ingoldsthorpe, who became his wife and soul-mate.

John is the third son of Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, and is shown as very different from his family, most of whom are as driven by ambition and ruthlessness as his eldest brother Richard, later known as ‘The Kingmaker’.

Isobel is the niece of the cultured, cruel, sophisticated John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester. The crowning glory of their marriage is the birth of a son and heir, but unfortunately little John sickens and dies and the young couple are inconsolable. Then fate plays its ugly hand in the Battle of Wakefield, 30 December 1460.  John’s father and brother Thomas are killed, as are Richard Duke of York, and his second son Edmund, Earl of Rutland.  Later on John makes the acquaintance of 8-year-old Richard, the youngest son of the late Duke of York.  Because there are so many Richards, this one is known to the family as Dickon.

When Dickon’s elder brother becomes Edward IV, Dickon is sent to Middleham Castle, the chief residence of the Earl of Warwick to be trained.  A special bond is forged between the cousins, John Neville and Dickon Plantagenet, in spite of the difference in their ages.

Warwick’s ambition splits the two friends as John ranges himself with his two surviving brothers against his beloved cousins, and at the  Battle Of Barnet in 1471 both he and ‘The Kingmaker’ fall. When they remove Johnny’s armour they find he is dressed in the livery of York – blue and murrey.  When Dickon’s illegitimate son is born soon after the battle, he is given the name of John, in all probability a tribute to his dear cousin and friend.

I thoroughly recommend this book, but it is fiction and although well researched, readers should recall that novelists have poetic licence to forward their own opinions.

If you would like to find out more about the author and her books, visit Sandra’s website.