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Showing 1-10 of 61 reviews(4 star). See all 203 reviews
on 13 August 2013
The facts as known behind the latest tv serial, enhances the credibility of the story for each of the characters
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on 2 March 2017
Thanks
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on 19 April 2017
Looks good
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on 13 August 2013
This did an excellent job of filling in the bare facts around the cousins war as far as these three characters are concerned. I was particularly interested in Margaret Beaufort's story - the facts of her life and activity. Until I read this I couldn't get a feel of her character. The essay "scratches the itch".
I was also delighted to have Philippa Gregory's introduction about writing history and especially history with strong women players.
It lifted the book from being just about individuals to putting them in a larger context. - and always in a very readable way.
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VINE VOICEon 14 August 2013
This is a study by three authors of three powerful figures in 15th century England during the latter stages of the Hundred Years War and throughout the conflict now known as the Wars of the Roses. The three figures are: Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, wife of Duke John who was English regent of France during the minority of Henry VI (by the popular historical novelist Philippa Gregory, who also provides an introduction to the overall book which contains some interesting ideas on the role of women in historiography); Elizabeth Woodville, Jacquetta's daughter and wife of Edward IV (by David Baldwin, who has written a full length biography of this subject); and Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII and who also lived to see her grandson Henry VIII accede to the throne and marry Katherine of Aragon (by Michael Jones, who has also written a full length biography of this subject).

I thought Jones's piece on Margaret Beaufort was the best of the three, a well written and balanced account of the life and career of a remarkable and, by the standards of the time, long lived major figure, dying at the age of 66. From her tragic early experience of being impregnated by Edmund Tudor when she was only 12 and personally negotiating a second marriage when she was still not yet 14, she was an able and astute politician, ambitious for her only son, with whom she had a very close relationship throughout the 24 years of his reign.

Baldwin offers a spirited and to me convincing defence of Elizabeth Woodville from many of the accusations of grasping ambition which are often thrown at her and her family, though in context, they were no worse than others who achieved prominence at this time.

I thought Gregory's piece on Jacquetta was slightly less satisfactory (she has apparently written other history as well as historical novels, though I am not clear what other non-fiction she has written), but it offers a perspective on an important female figure who is less well known than the other two, but who nevertheless played a key role in the highest political circles in the middle part of the century.

An interesting perspective on this crucial period of English history.
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on 29 June 2013
I must admit I was not convinced this would be a very good read, but I snapped it up cheap in a bargain bookshop. As it turned out, I got a great bargain as I actually really enjoyed this book!!

It's not what I would call an in depth history book, it's aimed at "general readership", but it was enjoyable to read.
It basically gives an overview of three of the women of the so called "Cousin's War".

I had previously read the book on Elizabeth Woodville by David Baldwin, and the essay by him in this book is basically a condensed version. It gives a good, general picture of Elizabeth. I find Baldwin's theories interesting- especially regarding the princes, although I think he goes a bit off the wall with the fate of the younger boy (in my opinion anyway).

The section on Margaret Beaufort is-in my opinion-the best. I really like Michael Jones as a historian/writer, and although Margaret Beaufort is not someone I am massively interested in, I enjoyed reading Jones's essay.
I don't know yet if I want to read more on Margaret, but Jones will be my first choice if I do.

Jacquetta- by Philippa herself, is not too bad. Again, Jacquetta is someone I find interesting but not in a huge way, and I don't think there is that much information out there about her.

I found Philippa's bit on women in history more interesting than her actual essay on Jacquetta. She does go on a bit of a pro-feminist spiel- but I found her comments on women in history really interesting. She also made me giggle with her comments on Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves- well said Philippa!!
I wish she had continued down this line a bit further as I found her writing on history/historians and literature better than her actual essay on Jacquetta.

All in all- an decent read.
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on 16 September 2013
Having watched "The White Queen" and becoming intrigued with the turbulent fortunes of those seeking to acquire or retain power in this period of history, I was interested to know more about what facts supported the dramatisations. This book did not disappoint and presented what information was recorded about the participants of the drama that was life in and around royal courts of the time. Other possible interpretations of what it might have meant for the participants were also presented and the whole appears to be well referenced. The three parts, written by different authors, were all easy to read and presented the ideas in a way which meant I was eager to read on and continue their histories. I think that seeing the television dramatisation first helped as I was at least familiar with the names of the main participants. A weakness with the Kindle edition was that the trees of family relationships were difficult to see, but the index at the end, being electronically linked, allows for very quick access to the text where a particular topic or person was discussed. So, if you want to refresh your memory of where someone fits in, this makes it very easy. Altogether well worth reading.
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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. These are also very well done, although Woodville's biographer, David Baldwin chucked in too many chatty asides and exclamation points, giving his narrative a slightly patronizing tone.

In addition to the three biographies in this volume, Gregory's introduction is especially interesting. She describes how she came to do this book, as well as discussing the slippery nature of historical scholarship. It's easy enough to dismiss historical fiction as not being factual and taking liberties with fact, but historical fact is not easy to pin down either. You would think that after five hundred years, we would have the facts down about the Wars of the Roses, but every year brings new books, new information, new interpretations, and different analysis.

As William Faulkner wrote, "the past is never dead - it isn't even past."
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on 31 August 2013
A valuable insight into the real historical characters that Philippa Gregory writes about in her Cousin's War series. Fascinating how much light can be shed on these shadowy women who worked powerfully to shape the destiny of nations in a man's world.
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on 9 November 2015
Very fascinating read about the many plantagenet women, and how their 'feminine wiles' and intelligence saw them through the horrors of early marriages to powerful men who were ( probably) largely in a similar plight of being too young for the duties of marriage. 'Make do and mend' would seem to be their motto ( not to mention best option,) and they did so with great style, and a maturity which confounds modern day thinking on the subject of young marriages. There are even adverts these days on tv asking people to pledge money for charity in order to help youngsters still caught up in such betrayal of their humanity. Were girls in this previous epoch made of sterner stuff really? Really?
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