Title: The Thistle and the Rose: The Tudor Princesses Author: Jean Plaidy
Release Date: June 1973
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Princess Margaret Tudor is the daughter of Henry VII and sister to the future Henry VIII. When she is twelve years old, she is married to King James IV of Scotland, a man that is sixteen years older than her. Margaret is thrilled with her marriage until she discovers James’ weakness – beautiful women. As Margaret fights for love and fidelity, she meets with tragedy and unhappiness, but her legacy will affect the future of Scotland and England.
As I’ve been reading about the Tudors, I’ve become curious about Princess Margaret, the elder daughter of Henry VII. After all, I’ve read plenty about all the other Tudor children, but haven’t found anything on her. Therefore, I was thrilled to find a copy of The Thistle and the Rose sitting on my shelf, abandoned for years. I dusted it off and devoured the story Jean Plaidy had to tell about Margaret Tudor.
One thing that struck me about Margaret was how vulnerable and insecure she was. She was Queen of Scotland and sister to the King of England, yet inside she was a little girl who just wanted to be loved. She was betrayed again and again by the men she loved, and it’s easy to argue she gave her heart away much too easily. As a result, she was ruled by her passions, rather than her common sense. It’s easy to peg her as a Tudor, as one of the largest scandals in English history arose because of a Tudor’s passion (King Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn), yet she doesn’t seem to have the intelligence or quick wit that goes along with it.
Margaret was not an easy character to like in The Thistle and the Rose. That’s no fault of Plaidy’s – the character was well-written and easy to imagine. Margaret is simply impetuous and does everything for the sake of the men she loves, without considering the consequences. Every political decision she makes seems to be due to capturing or keeping the love of a man. As a result, the reader tends to pity her through the novel – she is desperate for faithful and true love.
I’m not sure how historically accurate The Thistle and the Rose was, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable book. Though I wasn’t a fan of Margaret’s character, that didn’t dampen my enjoyment of learning about how she fit into the grand scheme of things. I’ll definitely be picking up more of Plaidy’s books in the future!