Book Review: Red Rose, White Rose by Joanna Hickson

red rose white rose

Title: Red Rose, White Rose
Author: Joanna Hickson
Pub Date: 4th December 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Obtained: Review Copy via NetGalley
Rating: 3/5*

Red Rose, White Rose is a historical fiction story based on Cecily Neville, the wife of Richard Plantagenet of York and mother of Edward IV and Richard III. Plantagenet history is a topic that I’m hugely passionate about, and any books, movies or TV shows about this period I’m sure to love.

Some of my favourite books about the Plantagenets are written by Philippa Gregory – namely The Cousins War series. Where Gregory excels is in bringing the Plantagenet era to life – her writing is stunning, her characters believable and the history weaved into the fiction so naturally.

My problem with Red Rose, White Rose was in the fiction element. First, let me say that the historical details were brilliant – I felt like I learnt a lot from reading this, which is always a good feeling!

The narrative is split between two first person perspectives – Cecily and her half-brother, Cuthbert. I was, unfortunately, in two minds over whether this worked or not. A lot of the action (and historical events) happened in Cecily’s chapters and there were times where I felt like Cuthbert’s chapters weren’t really necessary.

However, his chapters introduced us to some of the lesser-known figures during that time. I knew about Cecily Neville and Richard Neville (The Earl of Warwick, who features in Gregory’s The Cousins War series a lot) but the rest of the Neville family were unknown to me. The copious amounts of detail surrounding the Neville family and the family split were often quite hard to process at times, and I often had to do a quick Google search into the Neville family tree – but once I ‘got it’, I felt like I enjoyed the novel a lot more.

What I couldn’t quite get to grips with, unfortunately, was the characterisation and the writing. There were times where I often felt as if I wasn’t immersed in the plot and this effected my motivation to finish it. However, I did love the fact that it introduced me to events and historical figures that I wasn’t already aware of. An enjoyable historical read, but perhaps not one for those who aren’t familiar already with the Plantagenet’s history.

Thanks to HarperCollins for providing me with this copy for the purpose of review.

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