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Blood and Roses Paperback – 2 Jun 2005
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"'Sharply written, impeccably documented, structured with the trip and pace of a good thriller' Hilary Spurling Daily Telegraph"
Blood and Roses is a gripping biography of the Paston family set against the turbulent background of the Wars of the Roses by Helen Castor, author of She-Wolves and Joan of Arc.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
It is often the case in works of history that that the story is writ large, of kings and nobles and other people of importance, the Big Men of History. Less often do we hear the sometimes more interesting stories of people further down the ladder.
In Blood and Roses, Helen Castor has focused on the lives of one of the less important families of 15th C England, the Pastons of Norfolk. Her ability to do this is helped by the remarkable survival of much of the family's personal correspondence, with this helpful resource she has managed to tell a personal and moving story of the family's rise from peasants to landed gentry. It helps that the author has a novelist's sense of narrative and character as each of the Pastons we meet feels fully real, revealing how very little different we are from them. The personal connection I felt to the family also brought into context the much wider story of the Wars as they played out around them, cementing the story far more strongly, in my mind than, say, a Simon Schama may have done.
Gripping and beautiful, one of my favourites of this year.
However this book offers MUCH more than that. It has all the pace, twists and turns of a John Grisham legal novel!!! Except this is real, not fiction.
The book follows the lives of the Paston family from Norfolk. From their lowly start as minor landowners, promoted from the peasant classes all the way through the many struggles and trials both in the courts and out to maintain their status and earn the lands and money due to them.
This book isn't all about legal negotiations though. The 15th century wasn't a black and white culture where lands and possessions were concerned; it was more about whom you knew and whether they owed you any favours. Or which people of high status you could get on side. Throw in the dangerous ups and downs of fortune when the English throne changed hands many times during the Wars Of The Roses, and having to judge the best side to be on, and you have an absolute classic thriller!
Yet again though, the book is even MORE than that. The excerpts of the letters the Paston family wrote to each other, not only tell of their legal battles, but have some amusing moments of banter between brothers and even in a serious letter it might finish off asking the recipient to buy them some material as they can't find any of quality in Norwich!
It's a fascinating book, that tells the story of the Paston family, whom by the end you can not help but feel close to and that you know them well. You also get a wonderful insight of the Wars Of The Roses from a slightly background view, as well as lots of information on day to day living in the 1400's.
If you love history you'll love this book!!!!