Roses Have Thorns

A Novel of Elizabeth I

Roses Have Thorns

In 1565, seventeen-year-old Elin von Snakenborg leaves Sweden on a treacherous journey to England. Her fiancé has fallen in love with her sister and her dowry money has been gambled away, but ahead of her lies an adventure that will take her to the dizzying heights of Tudor power. Transformed through marriage into Helena, the Marchioness of Northampton, she becomes the highest-ranking woman in Elizabeth’s circle.

But in a court that is surrounded by Catholic enemies who plot the queen’s downfall, Helena is forced to choose between her unyielding monarch and the husband she’s not sure she can trust—a choice that will provoke catastrophic consequences.

A rich, tautly woven tale of love, deception, and grace, Roses Have Thorns vividly conjures the years leading up to the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots and is a brilliant exploration of treason, both to the realm and to the heart.
  • Howard Books | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439183168 | 
  • April 2013

Read an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Roses Have Thorns includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Sandra Byrd. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

When Elin von Snakenborg visits England with a royal entourage from Sweden and decides to remain, she drastically alters the course of her life. She marries an English nobleman and becomes one of Queen Elizabeth I’s most trusted ladies in waiting, a position that draws her deep into the intrigue, danger, and treachery of the court.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. If you were Elin, would you have wanted to return to Sweden or remain in England? What factors would have influenced your decision? Would you have changed your name, as she did?

2. Helena admits that she is fond of William but not in love with him, nor is she physically attracted to him. Is this any different from other engaged, highborn women of the time; for example, her friend Anne Russell? How did the system of marrying for dynastic and financial concerns help or hinder women of the time? Is our current system of choosing husbands always better? Why or why not?

3. Right before Princess Cecelia departs f see more

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About the Author

Sandra Byrd
Photograph © Studio B Portraits

Sandra Byrd

Sandra Byrd has published more than three dozen books in the fiction and nonfiction markets, including her Tudor series with Howard. For more than a decade Sandra has shared her secrets with the many new writers she edits, mentors, and coaches. She lives in the Seattle, Washington area with her husband and two children.

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