I love the ambiguity of the title. Usually, a book with “rose” in the title refers to the Wars of the Roses, but the main part of this novel takes place between 1514 and 1550, too late to be in that time period. So who is the dark rose? Does it refer to Henry VIII (grandson of the White Rose of York Edward IV), the dark tyrant who beheaded two of his wives? Or does it refer to Anne Boleyn, the dark-haired beauty who so captured his heart?
Yes, you got it, this is yet another novel about Anne Boleyn. But this one is so much more successful that TO DIE FOR, which I reviewed a few weeks ago. To begin with, the fictional narrator, Nanette Morland, has such an interesting personal history that is so completely gripping and fascinating, that when they are confiding secrets in a bedchamber together one night, you almost wish that Anne Boleyn would shut up about the King of England’s infatuation with her, so that you can hear more about Nanette’s story. That is really quite a feat!
And because Nanette’s story is so fascinating, the novel doesn’t die when Anne Boleyn dies. Instead, it becomes just as gripping as we follow Nanette through the rest of her life, as she finally blooms under the love of two good men. Five stars. A book club recommendation.