Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Thistle and the Rose by Jean Plaidy

This hasn't been a very productive year, reading-wise--more than anything, I've been reading bits and pieces of nonfiction, mostly for research. So I'm pleased to say that I actually read a novel from front to back: Jean Plaidy's The Thistle and the Rose, about Margaret Tudor, who married James IV of Scotland.

This novel, told in the third person, picks up with Margaret in her early girlhood at Henry VII's court and ends with her death in Scotland after having given birth to two surviving children and married three husbands.

As I knew little about Margaret before reading this novel, I found it quite interesting. Margaret's first marriage ended when she was still quite young, leaving the widowed Margaret to choose first one unsuitable husband of lower rank, than another. I can't say that I found Margaret a particularly likable character, but Plaidy did do a good job of portraying the difficulties she faced from warring factions in Scotland, pressures from England and France, and her own stubborn nature. In some ways, Margaret reminded me of Mary, Queen of Scots, with the difference being that Margaret ultimately died in her bed.

One thing I did wish had been included in here was a genealogical table, not so much for the English characters but the Scottish ones. That aside, I found this to be an interesting introduction to Margaret, one that will have me on the outlook for nonfiction about her as well.

Speaking of Jean Plaidy, I won an old paperback of one of her novels that has a splendidly tacky cover. I'm counting the days till it arrives so I can post it here!


Kathryn Warner said...

Looking forward to the tacky cover! I've seen lots of Plaidy's Plantagenet novels recently, reissued - have to say I prefer the tacky older covers! Much more entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing - I just read "The Thistle and the Rose" nonfiction by Hester Chapman (from back in the 70's I believe). I found Margaret fascinating. On a recent foray into Barnes & Noble I picked up the Plaidy novel of the same name. Now I look forward to reading it due to your review.

MelissaS said...

Wow, those are some bad covers - the Australian versions of the Jean Plaidy books (the 70s versions of them anyway) were positively dull in comparision!
Having read Madame Serpent that 50s cover art is so incredibly funny and wrong!
With regards to Margaret of Scotland, there is a non-fiction book called Sisters to the King by Maria Perry which is about both of Henry's sisters - Margaret and Mary - which was quite interesting.
Mary (who was as headstrong as Margaret) was also the subject of a Jean Plaidy book - Mary, Queen of France.
Neither of the sisters really behaved in a way that was expected of them in those times :-)