Customer Reviews


65 Reviews
5 star:
 (41)
4 star:
 (18)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly pitched historical narrative
This is absolutely first class, and a perfect example of how wonderfully detailed research coupled with highly intelligent interpretation of the facts, the personalities, the contexts in which their lives were lived and their relationships with the events surging around them can produce a thoroughly readable, enjoyable history book.

Sarah Gristwood is examining...
Published on 9 Oct 2012 by EleanorB

versus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but....
As a closet historian I was interested in reading this book as I do like to read about the women of history. I have read several novels on these woman I wanted to read a "factual" book. Ms Gristwood's writing is very easy going but I found the book lacking in excitment. Parts of it was so interesting that I kep on reading and also I hate to abandon a book,...
Published 16 months ago by Ellie


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly pitched historical narrative, 9 Oct 2012
By 
EleanorB - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is absolutely first class, and a perfect example of how wonderfully detailed research coupled with highly intelligent interpretation of the facts, the personalities, the contexts in which their lives were lived and their relationships with the events surging around them can produce a thoroughly readable, enjoyable history book.

Sarah Gristwood is examining the lives of many of the key women within the period of the Cousin's War (currently being examined fictionally by Philippa Gregory). In doing so, she sheds valuable light on the kings, crowned, putative, or sometimes deposed, around whose destinies great families rose and fell during what we know as the Wars of Roses. The reasons behind these bloody events are fully explained and the author's style and readability make complex matters, in the dim and distant past, come alive in dynamic prose. Although these women did wield not swords in battle, their roles as mothers, daughters, sisters and wives meant their challenges were no less real. For example, Elizabeth Woodville, Queen to Edward the Fourth, had to flee into sanctuary with her children twice as the shifting tides of power politics tore the ground from under her feet. Another interesting, more shadowy lady, is Margaret of Burgundy, sister of Edward the Fourth, who meddled from afar by supporting at least two successive imposters purporting to be her nephew (one of the Princes in the Tower)and thus a challenge to Henry the Seventh's nascent Tudor dynasty. All fascinating stuff.

I cannot praise this book too highly and the illustrations which accompany the text are also carefully and meaningfully selected.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cousins' War., 21 Oct 2012
By 
Miss Anne M. Biffin "Anne" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a terrific read. I'm not very conversant with the Plantagenet period of the Cousins' War, being more of a Tudor buff, although the book does enter the Tudor dynasty as far as the young Henry the Eighth, but thanks to Sarah Gristwood's systematic unravelling of the many threads with her meticulous research, it was an easy introduction into a very turbulent period, and an easy read despite the various protagonists.
The Plantagent Queens were fascinating,tough, manipulative and undoubtedly a power behind the scenes, each in her own way very intriguing. I was pleased to note that Sarah Gristwood was very even handed in her treatment of Richard the Third's possible involvement in the deaths of the Princes' in the Tower, leaving the reader with various possibilities to consider.
Despite having finished the book several days ago, these ladies and their machinations are still with me.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, 8 April 2013
This book is a good read, well written in an easy to digest narrative of the period. It clearly has a wide potential audience, and I would say with confidence that you do not need any prior knowledge of the period to understand and enjoy this book. Everything is clearly written, and as a popular history there are not endless notes and citations. Gristwood does quote from primary sources; when she does she tells us the author of her quote, but not always the name of the writing and never the page numbers. This might prove frustrating for people wanting to look at the sources for themselves.

The seven stories are interlinked nicely, and the move from one woman to another is smooth and does not disrupt the author's prose at all. The women who I especially enjoyed in this book were Marguerite of Anjou and Elizabeth Woodville; their stories were covered well and rumours against them argued fairly. Margaret Beaufort was treated well in the beginning, but I thought the balance slipped towards the end of the book when she was discussed alongside Elizabeth of York. (That could just be me, though.) Sadly, even though Anne Nevill was one of the author's case studies, she does not feature much in the narrative. That is of course not the authors fault; sources about Anne are scarce.

As one would expect from a work of non-fiction, care was taken to be factually accurate and fair throughout. One thing that did stick out was towards the end we had Edward of Warwick executed because the Spanish said so- there was no mention of him plotting with Perkin Warbeck, which actually is the crime he was executed for.

On the whole, this is a good book and I would recommend it to people interested in learning more about the period.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but...., 6 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As a closet historian I was interested in reading this book as I do like to read about the women of history. I have read several novels on these woman I wanted to read a "factual" book. Ms Gristwood's writing is very easy going but I found the book lacking in excitment. Parts of it was so interesting that I kep on reading and also I hate to abandon a book, however sometimes the book was heavy going, bogged down in small minute detail that slowed the pace of the book
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Women Who Stare At Goats, 29 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Blood Sisters: The Hidden Lives of the Women Behind the Wars of the Roses (Kindle Edition)
While watching Philippa Gregory's recent documentary on the War of the Roses on BBC2 I decided to try this book. Sarah Gristwood was one of several contributors to the program.

I wasn't disappointed. Although not really familiar with the War of the Roses (apart from studying Richard III at A'Level) I found this very enjoyable. Despite the enormous task, the lives of 7 different women, the author keeps a very interesting and tight narrative. She lets slips here and there: a few times I had to ask myself: Elizabeth who? Which Edward? Which Cecily. But given the amount of similar names this was always going to be difficult job - for any historian. Further, the author does provide us with a list of the names at the front of the book. Perhaps I should paid a little more attention... But I like to get right into the narrative.

Some minor points, like the over-use of notes and footnotes. These are always tempting for historians. But I think as much information as possible should go into the narrative. Just a personal preference (hence 4 stars). Peter Ackroyd manages to avoid any footnotes in his excellent Tudors: A History of England Volume II (History of England Vol 2), so does Helen Castor in She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth. (Though I found some of the chapters in this second book a little long! But don't tell her!)

I did learn one very important thing: Margaret Beaufort's symbol was the yale. Most people will know this as either a kind of lock, or the name of an American university. No, it's the symbol of a goat: a Satanic symbol. Makes you wonder whether the "hidden" lives of these women, and in particular Margaret Beaufort, were more "hidden" than we might think. Careful with that pentagram!

An excellent introduction into the War of the Roses.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Womens' War, 15 July 2013
By 
The Wars of the Roses have never been so popular with the general public, particularly with the airing of the BBC TV adaptation of Philippa Gregory's "The White Queen". This period was exciting, uncertain, and often devastating. The lives of the people who were the main players in this 'game of thrones' were remarkable, particularly involving the seven powerful women included in Gristwood's study.

These women were extraordinary personalities; particularly the vengeful but admirable Margaret (Marguerite) of Anjou, who never stopped fighting for what she believed to be her husband's rightful throne; the beautiful but cunning Elizabeth Woodville, queen of Edward IV; the educated and ambitious Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor; the proud Cecily Neville, mother of two kings; the shadowy Anne Neville, wife of two princes; and Margaret of Burgundy, scheming and shrewd sister of Edward IV.

Gristwood writes elegantly, and the book is incredibly easy to read - I finished it in days. The only quibble I have is the editing of this book - some of the sentences made no sense whatsoever!

I would guess that Gristwood's personal favourite is Margaret Beaufort, but she also seems to admire Margaret of Anjou, who displayed courage, resourcefulness, and vengeance in an age which perceived women to be meek, quiet, and utterly submissive. The more I learn about her, the more I admire Margaret too, once we look past the misogyny of writers such as Shakespeare who described her as a 'she-wolf' - although she certainly may not have been the most likeable of women. I also thought information relating to Elizabeth Woodville was interesting - did she have a feud with her son-in-law Henry VII which led to her banishment at an abbey for the last years of her life? Did she plot with pretenders against the Tudor king? Cecily Neville also appears to have been a courageous woman, but who nonetheless did not have an easy relationship with her beautiful daughter-in-law Elizabeth Woodville. Margaret of Burgundy seems to have been utterly scheming, but from her own family dramas and personal losses it's not hard to understand why.

Unfortunately, Gristwood never really brings Anne Neville to life, so this was a bit of a disappointment. I think this isn't necessarily Gristwood's fault, for compared to the other women, scarcely any sources refer to Anne; like a later queen, Jane Seymour, we know nothing of her personality, her appearance, her beliefs, her relationships, etc. Nonetheless, I thought Gristwood could have done more to explore her relationship with Richard III. She suggests that the two may have been close and may have had a childhood friendship, since they may have been brought up together; but why, then, did rumours suggest Richard poisoned her? I thought more could have been done to explore whether Anne WAS in fact murdered, or whether she merely died of an illness as was so common in the fifteenth century. I think we can safely say her life was tragic and sad.

I also thought more could have been done to explore the uneasy relationship, even feud, between Cecily Neville and Elizabeth Woodville. Cecily apparently resented her new daughter in law, but how did they actually interact with one another? Did their relationship ever change, or was it always hostile? The relationship between other women could also have been explored in greater depth - Elizabeth and Margaret Beaufort; Anne Neville and Elizabeth; Margaret of Burgundy and Cecily Neville, etc.

This book is a great starting point for anyone interested in the Wars of the Roses, and I would recommend it. It provides fascinating facts which can be read alongside Gregory's fiction. All in all, I enjoyed it - but I think rather than narrating the lives of 7 different women - some of whom were greatly privileged much more so than others (Margaret Beaufort, Cecily Neville, Margaret of Anjou) - it would have been more compelling to have explored how they interacted with each other and what their personal relationships with one another actually were.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some Sisters more interesting than others, 10 Oct 2012
By 
Elizabeth R. Ash (Toronto Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Blood Sisters is written from an interesting perspective, that of the royal women during the Wars of the Roses.

Unfortunately, women even at that exalted level, held only secondary power, through their male relatives. It was men who went to war, men who lead the armies, men who made the decisions political and military, men who held the purse strings. Elizabeth of York found herself borrowing against her plate because Henry V11 was so ungenerous with her allowance. Edward 1V was the opposite, everything depended on the men.

Lists of household items bought, servants wages paid and dresses ordered have a limited appeal, and while a lot is known about Cecily Neville virtually nothing is know about Anne Neville making the book uneven.

However it is a well written book, offering a different view of power and makes the reader appreciate the difficulties faced and the achievements gained by the future Queen Elizabeth.

The author is particulary interesting on the vexed subject of who killed the Princes in the Tower.
I would recommend her book on Arabella: England's Lost Queen before this one.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable read, 19 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As it says it will, it tells the stories of the women behind the main male characters in the Wars of the Roses (or the Cousins' Wars). But it is also a good introduction to/overview of the Wars themselves and of course the male characters, too. It takes the reader from the marriage of the young Henry VI to Marguerite of Anjou right through to the reign of Henry VII and the death of his formidable mother Margaret Beaufort. The book is easy for a non-specialist to read, and doesn't assume much if any prior knowledge of that period of history. I have just two criticisms, which do not concern the actual text. I found the Simplified Family Tree far too simple. For a newcomer or reader with only limited knowledge of this era, it would have made the family tree much more helpful if it had included the dates of birth and death of those listed, and had been more comprehensive (especially as so many of the girls seemed to be called Elizabeth!). And I wish there had been more pictures of the actual people rather than the Wheel of Fortune and pages from their books. But that's very minor - this is a very good read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative and interesting, 11 Aug 2013
By 
M. Parker "M Parker" (Cambridge England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Watching 'The White Queen' has inspired me to find out more about the women being the War of the Roses, and this book ticked all the boxes. Very informative and a great read. A book to keep.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Phil Martin, 4 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Well written and a different slant on the Wars of the Roses

The narrative made a complex story easier to understand
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews