Book Review: The Stone Rose: The Rose Trilogy (The She-Wolves Trilogy, Book 3) by Carol McGrath

Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Headline Accent
Pub date: 21 April 2022

London, 1350. Agnes, daughter of a stonemason, is struggling to keep her father’s trade in a city decimated by plague. And then she receives a mysterious message from the disgraced Queen Isabella: mother of King Edward III, and widow of Edward II. Isabella has a task that only Agnes can fulfil. She wants her truth to be told.

Much has been whispered of the conflicts in Isabella and Edward’s marriage. Her greed and warmongering. His unspoken love for male favourites. But as Agnes listens to Isabella, she learns that she can be of help to the queen – but can either woman choose independence, follow her own desires, and survive?

The sweeping third instalment of Carol McGrath’s acclaimed She-Wolves Trilogy: the gripping series exploring the tumultous lives and loves of three queens of England – and of three women who lived in their shadow.

Based on the extraordinary true story of the female stonemason who carved a queen’s tomb!

Having read the previous instalments in the She-Wolves Trilogy I couldn’t wait to read the final book and was excited to become part of the blog tour for its publication.

The Stone Rose centres on Isabella, Queen of England, wife of Edward II and the turbulent events occurring in England in the Fourteenth Century.

McGrath tells the story from two points of view, Agnes, the daughter of a stonemason  who has inherited her fathers workshop and Isabella herself. Agnes finds herself requested to visit the now Dowager Queen for the commission of her tomb. On her journey she hears Isabella’s story from Master Gregory who was once a page in the queen’s household.

Isabella begins her reign blissfully unaware of her husbands favouritism towards specific courtiers but soon begins to notice the influence of Piers Gaveston. As a young queen she cannot understand why barons wish to curb their spending and the influence of others but as she matures Isabella begins to understand, especially when Hugh Despenser the younger becomes the only voice her husband will hear.

McGrath brings Isabella to life as a strong, independent queen striving to protect her children, crown and those she loves.

Much happened during Isabella’s time as queen and McGrath’s depiction weaves fact with fiction to create a captivating, beautiful story filled with detailed descriptives of the court and country.

Lanes and meadows lay out before them like a tapestry as they nosed their mounts south towards the town of Northampton. Colourful wild flowers decorated the hedgregrows. This year, fields were filled with barley waving in the breeze, waiting for the reapers’ blades and every day the sun shone from a sky the shade of cornflowers. She breathed in the scent on mown hay, enjoying the sound of sheep in the meadows, bleating to be shorn, and the crash of water turning the wheels of the mills.

This book will transport you back to the Fourteenth Century, where famine, banquets and war all featured. McGrath writes beautifully and manages to give the reader the experience of travelling back in time to the Royal Court to meet characters such as Hugh Despenser, Roger Mortimer and of course Isabella and her ladies. This is certainly a book that absorbs you, one you will not want to out down and will be sad when you reach the end.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the trilogy and although you don’t have to read the previous two to enjoy The Stone Rose I highly recommend you read all three.

McGrath includes family trees, a cast list and an author’s note which are extremely helpful to those unfamiliar with the era.

For those who would like to find out more about the author you can find her on her website at and on social media:
Facebook: /CarolMcGrathAuthor1
Twitter: @CarolMcGrath

The Stone Rose is available now for purchase in paperback, ebook and audiobook

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