Top positive review
46 people found this helpful
Perfectly pitched historical narrative
on 9 October 2012
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.