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She Wolves: The Notorious Queens of England Paperback – 2 Nov 2009


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She Wolves: The Notorious Queens of England + She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (2 Nov. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750947365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750947367
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 233,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Elizabeth Norton is the author of "Anne Boleyn" and" Jane Seymour."

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Rachel on 25 Jan. 2009
Format: Hardcover
The irritatingly breathless, hyperbolic and off-putting cover blurb was ironically the reason I picked up this book; surely the author was not seriously suggesting that Emma of Normandy, Empress Matilda, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France, Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and Mary Tudor (to name a few of the "notorious queens" profiled here) all shared a penchant "for witchcraft, murder, adultery and incest"! Thankfully, no - the product summary is very much a misrepresentation of the approach here. The common theme is the notion that the notoriety of these queens arises from their failure, or refusal, to conform either wholly or partly to contemporary expectations of female behaviour, and that their reputations are not necessarily deserved. Given its scope -approximately twenty queens' lives are examined here, some famous, some more obscure - each chapter is understandably a very brief and general account of each queen.

In attempting to rehabilitate some of her subjects, Norton regrettably goes too far in the other direction. For example, in the chapter on Isabella of France, Edward II's Queen, she argues that Isabella was "driven" into her "cruel and terrible actions" by "years of mistreatment"; that the invasion of England and the tyrannical regime that Isabella and Mortimer set up was the result of being provoked beyond endurance by her homosexual husband and his favourites (Piers Gaveston and the Despensers, which is spelt "Dispensers" - both annoying and unintentionally funny). This implication that Isabella was really just a put-upon wife in an abusive marriage is too simplistic for words, as well as unfair. If a strong and powerful woman is able to own her achievements, then she should be held just as responsible for her less laudable actions.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By diappointed of Tunbridge Wells on 19 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
Having been given a Kindle for Christmas and recently read a reasonable review of this book, I ordered it as my first e-book. When I started reading it, I couldn't believe that any experienced editor had passed it for publication. While the endless split infinitives may not bother many readers, surely the lack of essential commas which require several re-readings to elicit the sense of a sentence should have alerted someone. Again, perhaps everyone doesn't know that "auger" is a tool rather than the verb "augur", but surely a decent editor would have picked that up.

But taking a less pedantic overview, the whole thing is a morass of "perhaps she...", "she might have..." and "it is possible that..." rather than a confident insight into evidence. Elizabeth Norton seems to have (or to quote her preferred phrase) "might have" discovered a list of queens, read some accounts of their various periods - William of Malmesbury being a particular favourite - and dashed off a series of possible versions of their lives.

I admit to having been hugely impressed by the combination of research and authorial invention Hilary Mantel achieved in "Wolfe Hall". But "She-Wolves" shows the pitfalls of a less scrupulous writer attempting to perform that trick. I have to rate this as a pot-boiler from a writer who's churning out books in a Barbara-Cartland-style production line rather than as serious scholarship.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Often enjoyable and interesting subject matter enthusiastically conveyed, though narrative flow often marred by excessive repetitive use of certain points particularly with reference to women's place in patriarchal society. Obviously this important point is central to the book's thesis and needs reinforcement, but not to the obvious extent routinely stated. As such the book reads like a late draft requiring further editorial input.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Chapman on 9 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very interesting stimulating read. This book puts forward the case for the defence of some of our more notorious Queens. It helps provide a more rounded picture or at least corrects the image of these women whom history has judged extremely harshly. The book is very comprehensive, mentioning various anglo-saxon Queens I had never heard of previously and struggled to pronounce their names. It is very informative about the court, politics and customs from anglo-saxon times to the reign of Mary Tudor. A thought-provoking read.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By History fan on 9 Mar. 2009
Format: Hardcover
She Wolves presents a montage of very different queens across a wide spread of time. They all share in a common a `bad press' from contemporary writers and later historians. I found the earlier queens the more interesting, not least because I knew less about them, but also perhaps because they did more outrageous things (at least, according to the people writing about them!) This book takes some very interesting angles on the queens, neither apologising for some unashamedly bad behaviour nor condemning them. Instead, Norton just tries to explain their motivations and why they did what they did, which makes for a fresh and compelling viewpoint.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ms. N. M. Laverick on 19 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
Personally, I really enjoyed this book. It wasn't long-winded like some history books - it went straight to the point of the title. It gave a great insight into the role of the queen consort in medieval England and the social views of the times. However, if you're looking for great detail into the lives of these queens, this is not the book for you. On saying that it is a great starting point.
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