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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
102
Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses
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on 19 November 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As it says it will, it tells the stories of the women behind the main male characters in the Wars of the Roses (or the Cousins' Wars). But it is also a good introduction to/overview of the Wars themselves and of course the male characters, too. It takes the reader from the marriage of the young Henry VI to Marguerite of Anjou right through to the reign of Henry VII and the death of his formidable mother Margaret Beaufort. The book is easy for a non-specialist to read, and doesn't assume much if any prior knowledge of that period of history. I have just two criticisms, which do not concern the actual text. I found the Simplified Family Tree far too simple. For a newcomer or reader with only limited knowledge of this era, it would have made the family tree much more helpful if it had included the dates of birth and death of those listed, and had been more comprehensive (especially as so many of the girls seemed to be called Elizabeth!). And I wish there had been more pictures of the actual people rather than the Wheel of Fortune and pages from their books. But that's very minor - this is a very good read.
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on 14 April 2015
A very good narrative of the royal women involved in the last Plantagenets' struggle for their English colony. Possibly unintentionally, the fact that this branch of 'our' royalty was straddled across the channel comes across very well. Similarity of names across the generations - especially in there being a surfeit of Margarets - means it's best read with a separate genealogy to hand. It's good history - doesn't judge, doesn't speculate, just presents facts with supporting evidence. And if it occasionally reads like a shopping list, it's because so much of the evidence boils down to shopping lists. I particularly liked that it wasn't drawn into Ricardian hysteria.
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on 20 March 2015
This book is marvellous. It is the clearest and most engaging treatment of this, the most horribly complex of wars, I have ever read - and I have read many! Reading about the same events but through the fresh and engaging perspective of Gristwood's fascinating look into the lives of the women involved, I actually feel I have (finally!) achieved a sound level of understanding. Her writing style is crisp, fluid, and precise and is a pleasure to read. History comes to life and I can say that this book is unputdownable - whether you are approaching from a position of scholarship or like, me, enjoying a period outside your area of specialisation. Cannot recommend highly enough. I felt bereft when I came to the end!
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on 23 April 2014
The Cousin's War is the new Tudors, the period of history en vogue at the moment and fuelled by the Phillipa Gregory fans. In this book Sarah Gristwood attempts to follow the tangled lives of the women at the heart of the conflicts, all loosely related and within one generation of each other. Several became queen, several didn't, all were at the mercy of the wheel of fortune.

Gristwood is a confident writer who doesn't rely on lengthy quotes from obscure sources but know that stories she is telling are strong enough to stand on their own.
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on 13 December 2017
Wow this book is so amazingly well written I only got it today but I’m half way through it’s such a page turner. The fate and fortunes of these ladies were mind blowing one day destined to be queen the next fearing for their families lives! How they are all woven in together in each other’s lives the author tells their stories so well amazing book.
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on 2 September 2013
I've read novels about these women but I wanted to find out what was really known about them. This book reads like a novel and is the product of some painstaking research. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in finding out the unembroidered facts. A very violent period of history and it's difficult to imagine how mothers, wives, sisters and daughters were able to tolerate the loss of so many people dear to them, we can only speculate. They were more used to such pain but one wonders if that made it any easier. A very good read.
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on 1 October 2013
I have been reading a lot around the period which this book coves and am finding much to enjoy in the reading. There were big gaps in my knowledge which this book helps to fill. It is well written and succinct and describes a period of unsettled times. At last women other than Elizabeth 1 are being brought to the attention of interested history readers. I would recommend this book to other readers
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on 11 May 2015
I was in two minds about buying this book as I have read a lot of books about this period. I was pleased to find a book focusing on the women for a change but wondered whether I would read anything new. I did. It's well researched, interesting and gives you an insight into how the women might have felt and what they had to deal with. It gives a connection to important women who shaped a world centuries ago. A really good read.
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on 14 August 2015
I think the book tries to cover too many women in one volume, though it is interesting to look at how their lives intertwine. I found it muddling as we jumped from one to another, without any real distinction between them. However it was good enough to finish which, with quite a long read, is saying a lot for me.
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on 1 October 2017
arrived promptly, and new as described
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