Pale Rose of England
Sandra Worth’s Pale Rose of England focuses on one of British history’s more obscure heroines: Lady Catherine Gordon, the highborn Scottish bride of Perkin Warbeck, the possible second son of King Edward IV. Though she’s not as well known as other women of her era, Lady Catherine’s life certainly rivals that of many of them; her status as wife to the “Pretender to the Throne” places her directly amid court intrigues and personal devastations. Worth’s book sheds light on this fascinating figure by giving her a voice seldom heard before.
As the book opens, we are thrust immediately into the lives of Catherine and her “Richard” (Perkin) as he arrives in England ready to lead a force against Henry VII. Catherine believes wholeheartedly in Richard’s claims, and their marriage is one of passion and love. Though events do not go well for the couple, we gain insight into motivations as we follow the doomed lovers through capture and ultimate sacrifice. Catherine’s story continues on after her great loss into other marriages; Worth even provides us with an excellent author’s note to explain the history further at the end.
Pale Rose of England is generally well-told, and the fictional retelling of Catherine’s story is quite intriguing, with Worth bringing new dimensions to familiar historical characters. My biggest complaints lie with Worth’s overly dramatic use of language; her overuse of similes grows thin after a while. At times the dialogue became so flowery that I found myself skimming to get past it to the much more realistic action sequences. However, this story of the unsung Lady Catherine is engaging and illuminating, and I quite enjoyed it.