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The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen and the King's Mother Paperback – 13 Sep 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 192 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (13 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849833346
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849833349
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The publication of two books this season by Philippa Gregory gives us not only two more fascinating portraits of the English Wars of the Roses, it also opens a window onto the way the bestselling author of "The Other Boleyn Girl" applies her craft." --"Los Angeles Times"

About the Author

Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the international bestseller The Other Boleyn Girl, which became a major film starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. She has written several bestselling novels set in the Tudor period and The Cousins' War series which is to be a major TV production. This book is the first of a new series of novels set in medieval Europe: Order of Darkness. Philippa's other great interest is the charity that she founded nearly twenty years ago: Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 160 wells for the primary schools of this poor African country. A former student of Sussex University, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year at Edinburgh University, her love of history is the hallmark of her writing. She lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire. She welcomes visitors to her site www.PhilippaGregory.com


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an interesting take on a little-studied subject. It encompasses three biographical essays about the central characters of Philippa Gregory's historical fiction series on the Cousins' War, or the Wars of the Roses - Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort. As the 'star' name among the writers, Philippa Gregory goes first with an introduction and the first essay. However, although most people will buy the book on the basis of Gregory's name being on the cover, her essay on Jacquetta of Luxembourg is by far the weakest. To be honest, she had the hardest task - there are few sources of information about Jaquetta. However, although Gregory claims to have delved into the archives to research for her fiction book, the essay is merely a narrative of the events of the wars with speculative comments interspersed like Jacquetta "probably was" or "was likely to have" been in various places. I'm afraid that such a difficult historical personality probably requires more time and expertise to do her justice - Gregory admits herself that she wrote the essay in this book while juggling the novel at the same time. David Baldwin and Michael Jones are on better ground with their essays, and Jones' on Margaret Beaufort is probably the best at analysing his subject. I'm sure that with a slightly amended structure and approach, this could have been a great book. Unfortunately, it is slightly disappointing as it is.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The three essays in this book are engrossing and entertaining accounts of these three important women. Whilst they are mainly hidden from public accounts at the time, the writers piece together their lives as accurately as currently possible, making it clear when information is being interpreted or extrapolated. I found the writing of each essay measured and credible, breathing life into these women and making them real. The essays are tantalising and left me wanting to know more. Having read Philippa Gregory's enthralling fictionalised novels, these historical essays help you to understand what is known and where Philippa Gregory has brought her rich and informed interpretations to the characters.
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By takingadayoff TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 April 2012
Format: Hardcover
When I saw a book by Philippa Gregory in the nonfiction section I thought it had been mis-shelved. And what was the Cousins' War? I've read a few books about the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Britain and Europe, but here was a war I'd never heard of.

I have to admit I have little interest in historical fiction, and haven't read any of Gregory's novels, but I was drawn in by the concept of this book. In doing research for her series about the Wars of the Roses, she found there were few primary sources dedicated to the women of the period. Secondary sources often downplayed the importance and influence of women. But there was no doubt that many women of the era were well-educated, politically savvy, and ambitious.

So Gregory decided to tackle some historical non-fiction for a change. Little has been written about the first subject of the book, Jacquetta of Luxembourg. As the mother of Elizabeth Woodville, she had a front row seat at the onset of the Wars of the Roses. I can imagine that anyone doing future research of Jacquetta will start with Gregory's book, which distills as much as is known of the Duchess into a readable narrative. Gregory doesn't speculate (any more than other historians) and while she chooses to skip footnotes as too academic for a book intended for general readers, she does include notes on sources and a bibliography.

Her other two subjects, Elizabeth Woodville (wife of Edward IV, mother of the two Princes in the Tower) and Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry VII) already have academic biographies written by current historians, so Gregory enlisted those authors to write short, non-academic bios of the women.
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Format: Hardcover
For as long as men have been writing history, important women have been lost from its pages. Restoring all of them would be an impossible, lifetimes-consuming feat, but that doesn't mean some historians can't try. Building on the success of Philippa Gregory's novels set during the Wars of the Roses (which she calls "The Cousins' War"), she and two historians have written a book spotlighting three of the most important women during the war - The Duchess, Jacquetta, her daughter Elizabeth Woodville, the Queen, and Henry VII's mother, Margaret Beaufort, The Queen's Mother.

While reading this review, it's probably worth keeping in mind that I know a lot about the Wars of the Roses, even counting what I've forgotten since I actually finished studying it intensively, and have read many many books and articles on the subject, both popular and academic history. I have also been trained to write history myself. My experience may not match yours.

I love the idea of The Women of the Cousins' War in theory, but I'm ever so wary of it in actual historical practice. Unfortunately, this book actually justified my wariness. The introduction, written by Gregory, is very appealing. Starting off first with the difference, in her mind, between history and historical fiction, and followed up by why she chooses to write fiction, was actually a fascinating glimpse into her head. I didn't agree with everything she said about the writing of history itself, but I appreciated such a bold introduction that really argued her case. It had me looking forward to the book.

At that point, unfortunately, I began to be disappointed. None of the essays use footnotes OR endnotes, which left me wondering where on earth they'd actually got their information from.
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