As a historian I have volumes of the Paston Letters, edited by James Gairdner, but they are just that, a series of letters. Helen Castor has achieved the impossible, taken the letters and made them part of a fascinating story that involves the reader all the way through. The Pastons come alive, with their grievances, their needs, their unhappiness, their illnesses, births, deaths and fluctating fortunes. It is good to see historical persons in their true context, Sir John Falstoft for one, and the various Dukes and Earls showing their true colours, not the ones history sometimes gives us. The duke of York rampages through the story, throwing his considerable weight around, (he's a favourite of mine) while poor King Henry slides in and out of conscious thought and the villains steal properties from their owners while their owners are in them ... This is the stuff of true history and Helen Castor is to be applauded for making it come alive in this readable and informative way.