Pale Rose of England
Sandra Worth

Penguin Group
Trade Paperback/464 pages
ISBN: 978-0425238776
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". . . the Tudor court in all its shapes and shadows."

A novel of historical authenticity and less than engrossing story.

In the short time of her marriage to King Richard IV, the only surviving son of King Edward, who was believed to be murdered by Richard III, Catherine and her baby and ladies follow Richard Plantagenet to England to begin the struggle to regain his throne from the Tudor usurper, King Henry VII. Richard Plantagenet, known as Perkin Warbeck in England, is considered an imposter with intentions of stealing the English crown, but his bearing and likeness to his father Edward is too marked to be missed.

Catherine is certain Richard will succeed in regaining his throne because a soothsayer told her she would be loved by a king. Such was not the case and soon Catherine finds herself separated from her child, Richard captured, and on her way, shortly after miscarrying a second child, to the court of King Henry VII where the real meaning of the prophecy will cause Catherine pain and sorrow.

Sandra Worth demonstrates once again why her literary journeys into England’s past in the wake of the War of the Roses have been so popular. Pale Rose of England, as her previous forays, is well written with a wealth of historical minutiae that sets the tone and pace of the novel. Less well done, at least in this instance, is the manner in which Worth provides connections to Catherine's and Richard’s fates.

Employing an omniscient point of view, Worth jumps from one character to another without sufficient time to become involved with the previous character, making it difficult to forge sympathy and empathy for the various characters’ plights. Before one scene and character takes the stage, Worth moves to another scene and another point of view. The pace is rapid and erratic at first and does not settle down until well into the book at a point after where many would have stopped reading.

Worth’s writing is rich and evocative, if hurried, but once she settles into the main body of the story where Catherine is under the control of King Henry VII, the pace evens out and the story unfolds more clearly and subtly.

There is a clear sense of place and time in Pale Rose of England and the court of parsimonious Henry Tudor comes alive in all its awful, wonderful, glittering splendor. It is where Catherine takes on solidity and depth as well.

Pale Rose of England is uneven, hurried, and unsatisfying in the beginning, moving to a richer and subtler prose that evokes the Tudor court in all its shapes and shadows.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell