On the Trail of the Yorks Hardcover – 15 Mar 2016
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‘A great addition to the understanding of the world the family inhabited’ (Amy Licence, author of Elizabeth of York)
About the Author
Kristie Dean has been published widely in magazines and newspapers, as well as being involved in the International Congress on Medieval Studies. After completing her MA in History with high honours she began to teach and was the recipient of the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award for her district. She lives in Tennessee.
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The book is laid out in an easy-to-follow format, with each main character of the Yorkist dynasty getting their own chapter. The chapters then follow a loosely chronological manner, based on when the locations were used, or visited, by the person in question. Ms Dean always gives a history of the association between the Yorks and the historic site, while also giving a general history of the location. The book acts as a practical guide for each location; giving not only useful contact details, but also travel information and what to look out for while you are there.
The centre of the book has a treasure trove of colourful and black and white images. Including portraits depicting leading members of the House of York and photographs of the places the Yorks and Kristie Dean have visited. The wonderful pictures help to bring the history to life and you find yourself flicking between the descriptions of the various sites and the related pictures.
Kristie Dean also discusses locations which are no longer available to us. Her description of Old St Paul’s Cathedral, which was destroyed during the 1666 Great Fire of London, is so thorough and passionate that it leaves the reader bereft at the thought of what is lost.
Some places are familiar to any fan of the Yorkist dynasty; York, Fotheringhay, Ludlow and, of course, Middleham. While other locations are less-instantly recognisable as having Yorkist connections, but just as interesting; castles such as Conisbrough and the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. The book itself takes you from locations in England to Ireland and into France and the Continent, with comprehensive travel information as you go; giving you a tour of some of the best historic sites that Europe has to offer – whilst never moving from your armchair.
No matter how familiar it is to us, each location is given the same level of attention, with detailed descriptions of the site, the things to see – and what not to miss – and the Yorkist story behind it. Kristie Dean builds up the personal stories of the individual members of the family through the buildings and places particularly associated with them.
On every page Kristie Dean’s passion and enthusiasm for her subject shines through.
This book allows the reader to vicariously visit the locations associated with the family of the House of York, with the history of each site, descriptions of what it would have looked like in the 15th century and descriptions of what is available to visit today.
You can vividly imagine being in Staindrop Church, or the church at Fotheringhay during the re-internment of Richard Duke of York in 1476, or feasting at the castle afterwards. Kristie Dean’s own information and knowledge is enhanced by her use of contemporary quotes, to give past descriptions of the locations and of the events she is describing.
It would be easy for a book of this kind to be confusing and higgledy-piggledy, but the author keeps focussed throughout and makes the book easy to follow, both as a history book and as a guide-book; keeping on topic and explaining any overlaps.
The work is thorough and impressive in the blend of history and geography, allowing you to use the book as a general history and tour guide, while each chapter and location is designed as a standalone guide, allowing you to drop in and out of the book as you please; a useful tool when travelling.
In short, this is a wonderful resource for both the armchair traveller, and the historical tourist, enhanced by photographs of locations and a level of detail that is second-to-none. It is a ‘must have’ on the book shelves for any fan of Richard III, the House of York or the Wars of the Roses in general, in order to enhance our knowledge of the period.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Ensuring that each member of the dynasty isn’t relegated to mere bit-player status, Dean devotes chapters and heady paragraphs to the family members and their lives, which are as equally enthralling as they are tragic.
The unique style of The World of Richard III is replicated here. Part travel guide, part historical non-fiction, On the Trail of the Yorks intriguingly transposes past and present.
Dean walks her readers through the current and past states of a number of historical sites associated with the House of York and its members. Whether the site is directly associated to the Yorks, as is perhaps Middleham Castle, where Richard III’s son Edward was delivered, or indirectly associated, as is Grafton Regis, the tiny village where first York King Edward IV’s future queen Elizabeth Woodville was born, Dean ensures that readers are simultaneously placed directly amongst the action of the past and the often strikingly dissimilar present.
Readers are also provided with informational excerpts about the House of York written by writers of previous eras. Including these writings serves to further link the past with the present, as though these writers have passed the historical baton onto Dean, ensuring that she keeps the story of the Yorks alive.
Throughout the work, Dean often speculates on the thoughts and actions of the York characters. While this lends to yet another breath of intrigue, at times these speculations err towards the slightly unrealistic. At other times, however, they simply serve to add context and depth to a group of people who are so well known that they often seem incredibly far removed from our reality.
Travellers are treated to a wealth of helpful advice and information regarding the current state of the historical sites. From information about the method of transport required to reach a site, to warnings about whether a site is dangerous to walk through, Dean has it covered. Her knowledge, thorough research and sheer enthusiasm for all things York radiate beautifully through the pages of On the Trail of the Yorks.
British history and travel buffs alike will enjoy and benefit greatly from Dean’s engrossingly informative historical travel guide.