What a historic delight Carol McGrath’s new novel The Silken Rose is. Not only did it captivate me with the political intrigue of the medieval thirteenth century, but it also introduced me to the real life she wolf queen, Ailenor of Provence – and what a woman she was!
The Silken Rose is the first novel in McGrath’s new Rose Trilogy. It vividly portrays Alienor’s life from the age of 13 when she travelled to England from Provence to marry Henry III. He was over 15 years her senior. Although she was only young, she was confident in her role as Queen and conveyed a great intellect that enabled her to navigate the patriarchal politics of the time. This meant that she made enemies, especially as she was accused of nepotism by Henry’s nobles.
This is a fascinating read, rich in historic detail that had me engrossed. Full of tension, betrayal, romance and excitement, I couldn’t put it down.
Ailenor and Henry really seemed to love each other. Their arranged marriage was a happy union as they respected each other and shared the same interests. However due to family politics, that love was significantly tested; sometimes to the very brink. Something I feel that some of us may relate to in modern times.
Evocatively enhancing the narrative is the interspersion of chapters from the point of view of Rosalind, a young embroiderer as well as the odd chapter from Nell, Henry’s sister. Both Rosalind and Nell are fascinating characters in their own right with such intriguing stories. Rosalind is a fictitious character to further embellish Ailenor’s story through depicting the importance of trade and embroidery in the thirteenth century. Nell (Princess Eleanor) was a real person and her own story is so absorbing, in my view she deserves a novel in her own right.
I’m now so excited to read the next two books in the medieval series, with the second one focusing on Eleanor of Castile (Ailenor’s daughter-in-law) and Isabella of France (Eleanor’s daughter-in-law). As all three women were from foreign lands, all three were treated as outsiders and viewed with suspicion. They were often regarded as she wolves. Again this resonates with modern day as women in power are often given derogatory, insulting names.
As a real history buff I found myself totally immersed in this book – and I loved that! 🙂 I learnt so much reading The Silken Rose, especially the influence and power women played in the politics of the time. It is a feminist, historical read that deserves to be celebrated.
And you can read The Silken Rose too as it was published by Headline on 2nd April as an e-book. It is also due to be published in paperback on 23rd July. Believe me, if you love historic fiction rich in evocative detail, this a book for you.
To follow the blog tour of The Silken Rose, please see below: