The King’s Daughter: A Novel of the First Tudor Queen by Sandra Worth. New York: Berkley Books. USD $15.00.
Sandra Worth has done it again. The author who brought us the Rose of York novels and the wonderful Lady of The Roses, which released earlier this year, takes us into the world of Elizabeth of York, daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville Grey, eventual wife of King Henry VII, mother of King Henry VIII, and, perhaps most fascinating, niece to Richard III.
Elizabeth of York is unlike the women around her, especially her overly ambitious mother and King Henry VII’s even more monstrous mother, the conniving Margaret Beaufort. Elizabeth is gentle, passive, dutiful, and kind. She’s swept up in the political machinations that cause her family to flee into sanctuary, kept a kind of prisoner, when her father is declared a bigamist after his death, and she and her siblings are considered illegitimate. Her brothers are taken away and disappear, believed murdered (throughout most of history, by Richard). She finds first love with a guard in the sanctuary, Thomas Stafford, but it is when King Richard and Queen Anne take her into their household that she truly falls in love . . .with her uncle.
After Richard’s death, Elizabeth believes she has no choice but to marry Henry Tudor, in order to bring peace back to the country. Because of her passivity, she is largely ignored in her own household, ruled by either her mother or Margaret Beaufort, whomever is there at the time. Plots and machinations continue, as she tries desperately to create a peaceful life for her sisters, for her growing family, and even for Henry, the husband for whom she learns compassion. The births of her own children, especially the radiant Arthur, who is set to succeed Henry to the throne, keep her going, in spite of constant plots, subplots, and increasing bloodshed amongst the political factions around her.
Worth shows us how a gentle heart is affected by political intrigue and relentless cruelty around her and the consequences of both action and inaction. As always, she gives us Richard through a fresh view, and sets out a theory as to why we have the picture of him as crippled and evil, the visions we’ve carried for centuries. She also entwines opposing theories as to what really happened to the infamous “princes in the tower”.
Worth’s writing is lush, lavish, filled with historical detail and imagery, but it never bogs down. Instead, she creates yet another intricate page turner, a wonderful novel for any time of year.