16 March 2015

Review of Root of the Tudor Rose, by Mari Griffith


When King Henry V and his bride, Catherine de Valois, are blessed with the birth of a son, their happiness is short-lived. Henry’s unexpected death leaves Catherine a widow at the age of twenty-one. Then her father, King Charles of France, also dies, and her son inherits both crowns. Henry VI, King of England and France, is just ten months old and needs all his mother’s watchful care to protect him from political intrigue. The queen, an attractive young widow, is a foreigner at the English court and now finds herself regarded with suspicion, particularly by the Duke of Gloucester, who will seemingly stop at nothing to protect his own claim to the throne. But lonely, vulnerable Catherine has found true friendship with another foreigner at court, a young Welshman named Owen. Their friendship deepens, but their liaisons must be kept secret at all costs, because Catherine, Queen of England and forbidden to remarry, is in love with a servant …

"Immensely readable and compelling…Highly recommended!"
Alison Weir, bestselling author

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

I could hardly put down Mari Griffith's debut novel Root of the Tudor Rose, which offers us a new slant on the relationship between Queen Catherine of Valois and her love affair with her Welsh servant Owen Tudor.

Covering Catherine’s life from her marriage with King Henry V until her untimely death, I found Mari’s writing style very readable and engaging. There are significant gaps in the historical accounts of Owen Tudor’s life – and no record that he even married Catherine, so we have to rely such clues as can be gleaned from ballads and letters, often written much later.

I have spent a year researching Owen Tudor for the first book of a new Tudor Trilogy, so am definitely more familiar with primary and secondary sources than most. It was therefore reassuring to see that Mari has declared what she calls her ‘flights of fancy’ in an author’s note at the end of the book. Yes, she does have Owen drunkenly falling into the queen’s lap – but redeems herself with doing an excellent job of getting all the clergymen right, (not so easy as it may seem). I was particularly interested to see how Cardinal Henry Beaufort is portrayed as caring and compassionate.

Although Mari's descriptions are evocative and convincing, I would have liked to see more details of what it must have been like to live in this fascinating period. My heroine of The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham featured quite prominently, although she is described as ‘gimlet eyed’. (I was happier when I looked it up and found it means to look at things very carefully and not miss anything.)  

I would heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in digging a little deeper into the origins of the Tudors - and look forward to seeing what Mari Griffith turns her hand to next.

Tony Riches


1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a wonderful story and a great perspective to add to the Tudor clan. The research alone must have taken a huge effort.

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