4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Women Who Stare At Goats,
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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.