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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional, unusual and highly readable
This is a very, very good little book. It is packed with superbly researched material which gives a vivid sense of daily life in the Tudor period, particularly female daily life with its unique challenges and pressures in relation to conception and birth. This is not, as might be inferred from the title, in any way a titillating book; rather it is quite a scholarly work...
Published 22 months ago by EleanorB

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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but silly mistakes
While this book covers areas on childbirth, marriage etc and gives good insight into the medical knowledge and superstitions surrounding childbirth the author has slipped up on her research.
For example on page 136 she states that Anne Boleyn is the daughter of the duke of Norfolk. Anne was the niece of the duke not his daughter. There are numerous other errors in...
Published 21 months ago by Karenf


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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional, unusual and highly readable, 24 Sep 2012
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EleanorB - See all my reviews
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This is a very, very good little book. It is packed with superbly researched material which gives a vivid sense of daily life in the Tudor period, particularly female daily life with its unique challenges and pressures in relation to conception and birth. This is not, as might be inferred from the title, in any way a titillating book; rather it is quite a scholarly work which sheds a completely different light on the endlessly fascinating Tudor dynasty.

What emerges is a picture of female life in which the main business of being a woman (queen or otherwise) was the production of children. This was the destiny, indeed the career, of all but those who adopted the religious life or were barren for whatever reason, A hard destiny it was: obstetric care was rudimentary, infection control was unknown, superstition was rife, pain relief virtually non-existent and both maternal and infant mortality scarily frequent, particularly, but not exclusively amongst extremely young wives - Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry the Seventh) was married at 13 and lucky to survive that one and only pregnancy.

For a queen, under pressure to deliver a nursery full of heirs, the constant need to conceive was simply a fact of life and took no account of personal inclination. I wonder if the pressure exerted by Henry the Eighth in this respect actually worked against him by placing his wives, particularly Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, in such a constant state of anxiety. Of course, the woman who did follow her personal inclination, Elizabeth the First, was regarded as positively unnatural for rejecting the perils of motherhood.

Amy Licence has placed the individual women whose lives she is studying firmly in their time and place, which greatly increases our understanding of how and why things were done in what seems to us, now, as ignorant and perverse ways.

How fortunate we are to have been born in an age where social progress, personal choice, reliable contraception,and proper obstetric care have made birthing a child, if not any less daunting, then immeasurably safer for all concerned.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars NAUGHTY BUT NICE, 25 July 2013
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This review is from: In Bed with the Tudors: The Sex Lives of a Dynasty from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I (Kindle Edition)
Liked this book a lot.
Full of naughty information about the Tudors.
Its nice to know that some things don't change!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant, 19 Jan 2014
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I cannot begin to say how wonderful this book is. Amy Licence's writing style is easy to read and engages you in the subject. It mainly focuses on the Queen's during pregnancy and childbirth which adds a much deeper understanding to the time period and the women involved. For those who wondered because of the title, it's not an erotic book - check out 50 shades of grey instead.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent unusual read., 23 Oct 2012
This is a really unusual book which kept me entertained all the way through. It is full of interesting new material on the domestic aspects of women's lives which other books on the Tudor queens tend to gloss over, particularly medical details about childbirth etc. As a fan of the Tudors, I often find books repeating the same well known stuff, so I was glad to find the author has new things to say about old topics, like Anne Boleyn's fall and why the Cleves marriage failed. This book also includes the experiences of everyday women of the sixteenth century alongside royalty, with cases of childbirth and scandal among the lower classes, which gives it a sense of social breadth. I also really liked the recipes and cures and all the information about home medicine and the uses of herbs. Another new thing is the exploration of how childbirth was changed by the reformation, because of Catholicism being attacked which I have not seen anywhere else, so I think this book has a lot of new ideas to offer and is well worth a read. The writing is engaging and accessible, using lots of colour and background detail to evoke the past and really helps the reader get a sense of what life was like for women then and how much has changed since. This book is exceedingly readable.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but silly mistakes, 22 Oct 2012
While this book covers areas on childbirth, marriage etc and gives good insight into the medical knowledge and superstitions surrounding childbirth the author has slipped up on her research.
For example on page 136 she states that Anne Boleyn is the daughter of the duke of Norfolk. Anne was the niece of the duke not his daughter. There are numerous other errors in the book and for me this lets it down.
I hope that when the book goes to paperback, the publishers will have edited the book and corrected the blatant errors.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, detailed, unusual book., 5 Sep 2012
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This is a most unusual book as it deals with an area not previously exposed. Many people are drawn to the Tudor times and this book reveals much detail about the everyday life of adults and children. Each page is packed with real - obviously well researched - detail that brings home to the reader the incredible life styles of people of that time. I suspect that any women, any historian, would find this book fascinating and not be able to put it down. Anyone interested in health and medicine would like it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good at a glance but...., 10 April 2014
This book is okay in general but approach with caution, it is littered with spelling mistakes throughout, which are more obvious in some places than others. Also, the book can get quite repetitive with the same facts repeated and re-packaged in a various number of chapters. More importantly, however, is the fact that the book is also littered in places with historical inaccuracies. For example on page 136, the author states that Anne Boleyn was the daughter of the Duke of Norfolk, when in fact she was his niece. Whilst the book was easy to read and accessible, basic mistakes such as this makes the reader question the authenticity and accuracy of other so-called 'facts'. Quite frankly, this is disappointing from an author who has an MA in Medieval and Tudor studies.

I would not recommend for die-hard history fans, with a particular interest in the Tudor period.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In bed with the Tudors, 15 Jan 2014
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This review is from: In Bed with the Tudors: The Sex Lives of a Dynasty from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I (Kindle Edition)
Enjoyable read, which brings the human face of Monarchy to the fore. As a midwife, I found the accounts of childbirth quite fascinating...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars boredom buster, 6 Jan 2014
This review is from: In Bed with the Tudors: The Sex Lives of a Dynasty from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I (Kindle Edition)
Great read if your interested in history this book goes behind the bedroom door and undresses the people you read about at school its fascinating well worth curling up with A*****
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 5 Jun 2013
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I read this all in one day. I couldn't put it down. It was good to see the comparisons drawn between life today and then.
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