cover image Crown of Roses

Crown of Roses

Valerie Anand. St. Martin's Press, $19.95 (404pp) ISBN 978-0-312-03315-6

The tumultuous years leading to the reign of Richard III and, on his death, the ascension to the English throne of the first Tudor Henry are conveyed with authoritative detail in this engrossing historical novel by the author of King of the Wood. Edward IV is shakily enthroned and England is torn in the York-Lancaster civil strife, when, at age 14, Petronel is unable to produce the male heir which would be her only value to Lionel, who will follow his king to Bosworth field. The period is marked by blood and death in public and in private. The scheming of rival factions at court, the rivalry of the king's brothers, Richard and Clarence, and the unhappy role of royal women are vividly illuminated, particularly through the eyes of John Alcock, bishop and important civil servant, but a figure curiously neglected by historians. As brought to life by Anand in this compulsively readable narrative, he is a key figure in the 15th-century tragedy which Richardians cogitate on to this day. (Nov.)