Sandra Worth's The King's Daughter picks up the story of the War of the Roses from a most unique point of view: that of Elizabeth of York, daughter of the Yorkist king Edward IV and eventual wife of the Lancastrian king, Henry Tudor (Henry VII). While at times Worth is overly flowery, I can always count on her to give me a good tale that provides glimpses into this bloody period of England's history. Following is my Amazon.com review.
When we think of British history and its queens, I doubt many of us will immediately think of Elizabeth of York, daughter to a king, niece to a king, sister of a king, and wife of a king. Yet without her, the War of the Roses might have continued on interminably, and her family's Tudor dynasty would not have existed. Sandra Worth has taken this obscure tragic queen and illuminated her life in her excellent historical novel, The King's Daughter.
Told from Elizabeth's point of view, Worth starts with her earliest childhood as the beloved eldest daughter of Edward IV and his queen, Elizabeth Woodville. Worth takes the view that Elizabeth Woodville was purely evil, giving her an over-the-top personality that quite honestly grated on me throughout the novel. Young Elizabeth, however, having lived through two times of frantic sanctuary, the death of her father and the disappearance of her two younger brothers, continues to try to make peace with her vitriolic mother. Indeed, making peace seems to be Elizabeth's lot in life; used as a pawn from her earliest days, she never seems destined to discover any true happiness of her own.
Worth chooses to have Elizabeth fall in love with her uncle, Richard III, which I believe to be a mistake for several reasons. The idea of an incestuous relationship between the two, while less distasteful in the 1400s than today, still gives the story an icky feeling. Plus, Richard's devotion to his wife is well known, and it would be hard to believe that he would have encouraged his niece to foster her romantic feelings for any reason. While a young girl who hasn't known much stability might have fallen for a strong older man, the sort of unending devotion Elizabeth exhibits just feels wrong.
However, Worth does do a terrific job in bringing the details of Elizabeth's life forward, and I found her portrayal of the relationship between Elizabeth and Henry Tudor very believable. Elizabeth, trained from birth to accept her fate, realizes that it's going to be up to her to find her own place in life, and if that means tolerating both Henry and his overbearing mother, she will do it in order to bring peace to the kingdom her father loved. Worth does give Elizabeth a bit more spunk and spine than I'd previously thought she might have, and I appreciated that as this is a woman I just couldn't have understood otherwise. Worth also has a way of pulling you into the time period and making you feel as though you are experiencing events firsthand. If at times her writing is overly flowery and her villains way too one-dimensional, it can be forgiven because her novels are always well written and vibrant. The King's Daughter is no exception.