Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I
I think what is best about historical fiction is the opportunity to find out about historical figures we know little or nothing about. This is the case in Sandra Byrd's new book, Roses Have Thorns, where we get to see the story of Elizabeth's Tudor court told from the point of view of Helena, Marchioness of Northampton. Helena comes to England from Sweden as Elin von Snakenborg and soon ingratiates herself with Queen Elizabeth. Helena is a very likable character. I enjoyed her kindness and wit throughout the book. What I liked the most though was the view of the queen through her eyes. Elizabeth is probably my favorite historical figure and the way she is portrayed in this book is how I feel she really might have been. Helena may have been Elizabeth's lady in waiting, but Byrd has portrayed the relationship between them with a light of friendship. This adds real charm and authenticity to the story. We get to experience Elizabeth as a flesh and blood human, not just a figure head. I was so very touched by this quote at the end when Elizabeth dies at the old age of 70:"I knew she was at peace and with those she best loved: in the embrace of the Lord Jesus, then next, perhaps her Robin, and then finally, finally, resting enfolded in the arms of her mother."That brought tears to my eyes. To know that you have made your mother so proud of you in what you did in your life and to finally see her again after so many years. I really hope that was true for Elizabeth.This is the final book in Sandra Byrd's Ladies in Waiting series. I have the other two books (graciously sent to me by Ms. Byrd) and I can't wait to read them, even if I'm reading out of order. Ms. Byrd has a talent for telling a great story and creating characters we care about while preserving the historical details that surround the story. I can't wait to see what she has in store for us next.