The Thistle and the Rose

Written by Jean Plaidy
Review by Fiona Lowe

Plaidy’s eighth Tudor novel vividly reconstructs the dramatic life of Margaret Tudor, from the time of her early marriage to King James IV of Scotland to her death years later at Methven Castle. Written with great aplomb the novel captures perfectly the enthralling complexity of its cast of characters, chronicling in convincing detail the twists and turns of political intrigue at the Scottish court.

Margaret is vain, passionate, and jealous, and James is a renowned lover determined on forging an alliance with France whilst entertaining enmity towards his brother-in-law, King Henry VIII of England; their marriage alternates between displays of affectionate tenderness and outbursts of tempestuous violence.

Following James’ early death at the hands of the English army on the battlefield of Flodden, the murderous intrigue of the Scottish court and the extreme factiousness of Scottish nobles becomes ever more plain; Margaret engages in a bitter fight to regain her lost Regency and control of her son’s destiny as the future James V. A capricious woman, Queen Margaret is often difficult to admire, but the deprivation of her children will leave you aching with sympathy for her loss. A rich tapestry of a novel, and a highly pleasurable read.