Book Review for “Red Rose of Anjou”

Book Review for: Red Rose of Anjou
The Plantagenet Saga
Written by: Jean Plaidy
Fawcett Crest Books
Published in 1982.
ISBN: 0-449-20630-0
337 pages
4.5 StarsReviewed by: S. BurkhartPlaidy crafts a tale full of heartbreak, love, and loyalty with “Red Rose of Anjou.” Henry VI was crowned England’s king at the tender age of nine months. Now a man, Henry is seeking a wife. Can he find happiness with the red rose of Anjou?The story opens with a look at Margaret of Anjou’s parents, Rene and Isabelle. Rene is the titular king of Naples, but has a weak stomach for war, instead pursuing more artistic pursuits. Margaret is a pretty girl and grows up around several strong willed female family members. She also grows up with Charles VII as the French king. In her early years, she forges her own strong will and loyalty to France.Henry VI of England is a young man seeking a wife. His advisors recommend Margaret. Henry wants to end the war with France and taking a French bride might do that. He knows it might not be a popular choice, but he’s resolved to it. To that end, he arranges for a portrait of Margaret to be stolen form her father’s house. Charmed the portrait, Henry seeks Margaret’s hand.Margaret agrees to the marriage. When she arrives in England, Henry comes to her in disguise and is pleased by her. They marry. Margaret soon realizes her bridegroom is deeply religious and easily influenced. It is easy to get Henry to agree to her will, but her decisions do not endear her to the nobles or the commoners.England loses the Maine and Anjou to France. Many blame Margaret since it was Charles’s demand for Henry to marry Margaret. Her good friend, Suffolk, pays for the price with his death.Margaret’s popularity with the people declines. Unfortunately for her, her happiness takes a beating when her husband begins to suffer from symptoms we would recognize today as schizophrenia.Richard of York is appointed the Protector of the Realm. Can Margaret and Henry find happiness again like they shared when they were first married, or will Henry’s madness send England into civil war?Plaidy pens a comprehensive and engaging tale of Henry and Margaret’s life. The story never lingers, moving at a perfect pace. There’s enough descriptions to picture the long ago settings.Plaidy’s done her research and it shows. The accounts of Margaret’s and Henry’s lives are full of rich details which you don’t find in the history books or the Internet.Both Margaret and Henry are full of flaws and strengths. In Margaret’s case, she never learns to temper her strong will, which works against her, however her love for Henry and their son is endearing. Henry’s love and admiration for Margaret is tender, but his madness threatens his happiness.No where is Margaret and Henry’s affection and love showcased better than in the early of their marriage. Plaidy debunks several myths surrounding the royal couple, presenting them as real, honest human beings, not just as king and queen.”Red Rose of Anjou” paints Henry VI’s reign in fresh strokes, making history exciting to discover.