Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.
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May include spoilers for those not familiar with the history of Owen Tudor.
I enjoyed this look at the man who made the Tudor dynasty a possibility: Owen Tudor. Though he could have lived his life in relative obscurity, he took the bold step of marrying widowed queen Catherine of Valois. This book is brief, but it is still a more comprehensive look at Owen's life than I have previously read.
Instead of only telling the story of Owen and Catherine's romance, the author tells Owen's story. Using a bold present tense, first person narration, Riches places the reader directly into Owen's mind as the turbulence that led to the Wars of the Roses begins in England.
Owen seems uncertain if he is proud of his position in Catherine's household or disappointed that his family has lost their standing, primarily because they are Welsh. Well, that Welsh handsomeness comes in handy in catching the eye of the former queen, who Owen quietly admires for years never dreaming that she may be peeking at him as well. However, Owen is not obsessed with Catherine. Since she is not a logical possibility, he has other relationships and friendships that help make him more than just that servant that married a queen.
Then he does marry the queen. She is frail and already showing signs of the madness that plagued her father and would eventually cause the downfall of her son. Rather than being frustrated or disillusioned with her, Owen patiently comforts and loves Catherine even as she fades away.
After Catherine's death, Owen realizes how much her protection had meant, though she had seemed powerless as a dowager queen. It is not until Henry comes of age and Owen manages to obtain an audience with him that the harassment and imprisonment stops.
The remainder of the story focuses on Owen's relationship with his two oldest sons, Edmund and Jasper. We get a glimpse of the next story in this trilogy as Margaret Beaufort joins the family and gives birth to Owen's grandson, Henry.
The Wars of the Roses are just getting underway when Owen and Jasper are ambushed by a young, vengeful Edward of York at Mortimer's Cross. This is one section of the story that I would have loved to see fleshed out a little bit more. Owen's end and the uncertainty he has about the future are poignant. Not knowing if his son is alive, imprisoned, or free to fight another day, Owen is lead out to meet his final judge.
The story continues with Jasper, and I hope it will be coming out soon!