Book Review: Red Rose, White Rose (Paperback)
by Joanna Hickson
Eye reading, 9 days
I read this book back in February this year. It has remained one of my favourite books of the year which I often think back to wishing I was reading it again. I picked it up in a 2 for £7.98 (or whatever the offer they have at Tesco) as I thought the description on the back of the book sounded interesting. I had little knowledge of the War of the Roses, so this really was a good introduction (from a fictional perspective). It was my first historical fiction book so any comparisons to other authors (as I’ve seen in other reviews of this book) really went over my head.
It was a book I struggled to put down. It follows the lives of Cecily Neville, the wife of Richard Plantagenet of York, and her half-brother, Cuthbert. I loved the author’s use of two key characters to give both a female and male perspective. Having studied history at university, it’s often difficult to have a gender balance in the way the story (historically or fictionally) is told as they almost seem like two very different worlds.
The story starts with Cecily as a girl and follows her journey through adolescence into becoming one of the key historical figures during the time of the War of the Roses. Cecily is the main character of the two while Cuthbert’s chapters add an extra dimension to the story that Cecily couldn’t possibly have seen from a female perspective.
The author does use artistic license and so it is important to grasp that this is historical fiction not historical fact before starting on the book. It is based on actual historical events, but shouldn’t be taken too literally as to the thoughts, behaviours or actions of the individuals as historical figures. It’s a romantic perception and should be enjoyed for the story itself and the story is why I have given it such a high score.
I became very attached to the two leading characters and felt a loss when I finished the final page and closed the book, which for me speaks volumes for the author. I felt as though I was saying goodbye to a friend when I put the book back on my shelf. I found it easy to read and didn’t want to put it down once I got into it. I have already recommended it to friends and family who are fans of historical fiction.