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The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother PDF, ePub eBook

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The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother PDF, ePub eBook #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory teams with two eminent historians to explore the historical characters in the real-life world behind her Wars of the Roses novels. PHILIPPA GREGORY and her fellow historians describe the extraordinary lives of the heroines of her Cousins’ War books: Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford; Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV; #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory teams with two eminent historians to explore the historical characters in the real-life world behind her Wars of the Roses novels. PHILIPPA GREGORY and her fellow historians describe the extraordinary lives of the heroines of her Cousins’ War books: Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford; Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV; and Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII. In her essay on Jacquetta, Philippa Gregory uses original documents, archaeology, and histories of myth and witchcraft to create the first-ever biography of the young duchess who survived two reigns and two wars to become the first lady at two rival courts. David Baldwin, established authority on the Wars of the Roses, tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the first commoner to marry a king of England for love; and Michael Jones, fellow of the Royal Historical Society, writes of Margaret Beaufort, the almost-unknown matriarch of the House of Tudor. In the introduction, Gregory writes revealingly about the differences between history and historical fiction. How much of a role does speculation play in writing each? How much fiction and how much fact should there be in a historical novel? How are female historians changing our view of women in history? The Women of the Cousins’ War is beautifully illustrated with rare portraits and source materials. As well as offering fascinating insights into the inspirations behind Philippa Gregory’s fiction, it will appeal to all with an interest in this period.

30 review for The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother

  1. 5 out of 5

    Orsolya

    Here we have it, folks: Phillipa Gregory’s first attempt to formularize a historical essay without her usual fictitious flair. How did it go? Read on, my friends. The Women of the Cousins’ War began with a 40 page “introduction” which delivered Gregory’s thesis relating the similarities between historical fiction novelists and “actual” historians. Although Gregory made some interesting points regarding the composition/narration of both fiction and factual accounts, the speculation involved in bot Here we have it, folks: Phillipa Gregory’s first attempt to formularize a historical essay without her usual fictitious flair. How did it go? Read on, my friends. The Women of the Cousins’ War began with a 40 page “introduction” which delivered Gregory’s thesis relating the similarities between historical fiction novelists and “actual” historians. Although Gregory made some interesting points regarding the composition/narration of both fiction and factual accounts, the speculation involved in both, and I also see her view and work in a new light; it still seemed like a desperate attempt at self-validation to prove that she is a historian and is out of place in such a book. Another issue I had with the introduction? PG named Jacquetta as the “grandmother of Henry VIII and great-grandmother of Elizabeth I”. Ummm? Are you sure, PG? (Jacquetta --> Elizabeth Woodville --> Elizabeth of York --> Henry VIII --> Elizabeth I) Not sure how this missed the editing process. PG also admitted in the introduction that the piece on Jacquetta would involve speculation due to the lack of resource material (but again, tried to validate herself). I have some other complaints with the introduction but moving on to the more important aspects: PG’s essay on Jacquetta: Gregory’s essay consisted of an overuse of “perhaps” and “maybe” statements. I understand her desire to “cover” the life of a strong but less discussed character and wanting to begin an influx of coverage but I still don’t like “maybe” statements. This became very frustrating with such sentences as, “Jacquetta was probably with them. It would have been an anxious time for her; she probably did not know if her husband and son were alive or dead, or still imprisoned at Calais”. See what I mean? PG also added her usual peculiar overuse of titles (i.e. Lord John, Duke of Bedford). Other than that, PG did deliver smooth reading and it wasn’t a bad attempt at her straying from historical fiction. The essay did, however, read like a summary of The Lady of the Rivers, minus the dialogue. Not necessarily a strong history piece and it certainly could not have stood on its own but not a bad attempt. What else was lacking strength? The “Conclusion”statement. Most “afterwords” in history novels are powerful and moving and Gregory’s can simply be described as “odd”. David Baldwin on Elizabeth Woodville: Baldwin’s essay was very welcoming with a writing style which is eloquent and yet not too technical. It also (like Gregory) has some “perhaps” and “maybe” statements involving Elizabeth’s emotions. Clearly, we can’t fathom her emotions (unless it is recorded in a diary of sorts); so these statements (in my opinion) could be omitted. I also found Baldwin’s habit of ending paragraphs with exclamation points somewhat unusual. The “fan favorite” tale of Elizabeth Woodville fighting off Edward’s sexual advances (and possible rape) with a knife was not mentioned. Further, his brief and loop-holed version of the “princes in the tower” mystery was not agreeable based on my many texts I have previously read; but it was still interestingly written. However, on a positive note, Baldwin did debunk some speculations with solid research resulting in the presentation of come compelling info. Also adding to the delight of the essay was the incorporation of Elizabeth’s will, in full. Overall, Baldwin depicts a complementary ratio of a motive-study and biography which results in a page-turner, although an overall story we already know. Alas, very enjoyable. Mike Jones on Margaret Beaufort: This essay began on a powerful note with a very strong, unarguable voice. Jones efficiently packed a large amount of information into a small space, while telling Margaret’s story engagingly and effectively. Beginning with the impact of her father’s suicide on her childhood and adult life while also describing the brunt effects of John of Gaunt on her entire House; Jones provided a clear and “full” picture of Margaret’s world. Basically, Jones focused more at times on the family of Margaret versus Margaret herself, which would in normal circumstances displease me but it was written so well, that I can’t even complain. Jones is obviously a huge supporter of Margaret and was “stuck” on portraying her in the usual angelic, pious light. In fact, if he repeated one more time how pious but pragmatic and astute she was; I was going to scream. Regardless of my lack of agreement on his stereotype of Margaret, it didn’t deter me from the reading or ruin my enjoyment. My biggest “eh” moment was when Jones presented two possible scenarios to specific events, which I welcome in the detective sense; but he literally stopped the narration, stepped back to describe his upcoming execution, and then tried to rove back into the story. This completely stopped me at a climax in the book and caused me to lose my train of though and excitement. Yes, it is comparable to an orgasm which is about to happen… but does not. Sadly, the Battle of Bosworth was glossed over which as my favorite historical event, was personally disappointing. On the highlight: the essay successfully opened my eyes in a new way to Margaret. I always viewed her Elizabeth Woodville’s “rival” but it finally struck home how inexplicably they were tied together even before Elizabeth of York’s marriage to her son, Henry Tudor. They were destined to be blanketed together. I can’t vouch whether the essay made me like Margaret more or not, but it did allow me to understand her actions better. Jones certainly sparks your desire to read more literature on Margaret. Very beautifully written and I even wish it was longer. Overall, a type of book in which a reader can “pick a favorite” author and their offering of the material. Each has a different writing style, tone, and carrying out of information. By far, I enjoyed Mike Jones the best, then Baldwin, and PR rounding in third. Although considered PG’s book, her essay was certainly the weakest based on her topic’s lack of source material but also her personal authoring skills. I did enjoy it better than her recent historical fiction pieces, however; so I do think she could (with some practice) manage the history world. Overall, a more solid book than the novels in her “Cousins’s War” series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Iset

    Since this book is co-authored by three very different writers, it is best examined in three parts. David Baldwin is the author of the book’s essay on Elizabeth Woodville. It’s a pacy effort, interesting, to the point, and makes no mention of the fairytale episodes of popular myth and which Gregory, incidentally, chose to include in her novel The White Queen. Baldwin also takes the time to explain why Elizabeth might have been accused of witchcraft in her own time. It’s readable, focused, and go Since this book is co-authored by three very different writers, it is best examined in three parts. David Baldwin is the author of the book’s essay on Elizabeth Woodville. It’s a pacy effort, interesting, to the point, and makes no mention of the fairytale episodes of popular myth and which Gregory, incidentally, chose to include in her novel The White Queen. Baldwin also takes the time to explain why Elizabeth might have been accused of witchcraft in her own time. It’s readable, focused, and goes beyond mere narrative to explore what Elizabeth actually did as queen, or, where there are gaps, Baldwin presents evidence and cogently argues that Elizabeth’s duties could have included such activities. I enjoyed this section on what Elizabeth did as queen, and Baldwin presents a new angle on the apparent power-grabbing of the Woodvilles – pointing out that many of their actions were normal for the times and what was to be expected for the family of the queen, whilst it was her husband and his brothers who often perpetrated more shocking power-grabbing (such as declaring the ancestress of the two Neville girls, wed to George, Duke of Clarence, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, legally dead so that the sisters, and through them Edward’s brothers, could claim their vast inheritances!). Interestingly this is in stark contrast to Gregory’s portrayal of events in The White Queen, where Elizabeth and Jacquetta are portrayed as gleefully and rather vindictively snapping up all the marriageable prospects in the kingdom and marrying them off to Elizabeth’s siblings and other relatives against, the novel implies, the will of aforesaid marriageable prospects. Baldwin actually goes beyond the bog-standard basic narrative of Gregory’s “essay” on Jacquetta to try to explain how and why Elizabeth Woodville was, in several respects, a strong queen. Unfortunately he is somewhat limited by the lack of proper referencing, but more on that later. Michael Jones is the author of the book’s essay about Margaret Beaufort. It’s obvious from the get-go that Jones is passionate about his subject, and I would have to say his treatment of Margaret Beaufort is definitely favourable – in addition he criticises some past works dealing with Margaret that have been less than favourable. He has a point when he notes factual errors in these past works, or where they fail to draw upon certain evidence, and Jones’ work isn’t out-and-out rabid bias by any stretch of the imagination – but just to make sure I get a balanced view I would read some other works on Margaret too, and consult the available evidence. Jones isn’t immune from making his own factual errors, I should point out. At one point in the essay he states that George Stanley, later Lord Strange, Margaret’s step-son, married “the queen’s sister”, and goes on to describe her as the daughter of Lord Strange and Jacquetta. This is incorrect, as George’s bride was the daughter of Lord Strange and Jacquetta Woodville, Elizabeth Woodville’s younger sister, making the lady a niece of Elizabeth Woodville. Still, like David Baldwin’s essay, I found myself enjoying Jones’ section. He’s focused on the subject for the most part, and presents what was to me a fresh perspective on Margaret Beaufort alongside evidence backing up his propositions and he even delves into some critical analysis and presents alternative views to the reader and not just one single conclusion – this is good academic writing. Sadly, he too is limited by the referencing issue. However, Jones’ enthusiasm and passion for the subject really filtered through and enhanced my reading experience – as a reader I feel much more engaged and interested myself when I can tell that an author cares about their subject. Philippa Gregory is responsible for the 41-page introduction, and the following essay on Jacquetta of Luxembourg. Gregory gaffes big time in the introduction, stating that Henry VIII was Jacquetta’s grandson and that Elizabeth I was Jacquetta’s great-granddaughter. If you follow the line backwards from Elizabeth I, Henry VIII was Elizabeth I’s father, Elizabeth of York was Henry VIII’s mother, Elizabeth Woodville was Elizabeth of York’s mother, and Jacquetta was Elizabeth Woodville’s mother. That makes Henry VIII the great-grandson of Jacquetta and Elizabeth I her great-great-granddaughter. This is just the sort of basic error that I characteristically find in Gregory’s works. Moreover, Gregory seems intent upon using the introduction as her own personal soapbox, shoring up the inaccuracies in her novels by presenting the old Obi-Wan Kenobi “from a certain point of view” argument, and claiming that “Historians select what story they are going to tell, then they select what facts they are going to use to illustrate and prove this story.” This is deeply misleading and demonstrates real lack of understanding of the importance of objectivity, self-critique, and open debate that the modern fields of history and archaeology devote a lot of resources and energy to in order to ensure that as much of the facts are related to the general public as possible – long gone are the days of pervasive bias, which nowadays resides only in the realms of fake pseudo-historians and fringe theorists with a pet project to promote. Gregory then launches into a discussion about the neglect of women in history – both in the past and as historians – although this situation is greatly changed today. This discussion has some merit, but it reads like a first-year undergraduate’s first essay on gender archaeology – it lays down the very basics of the debate and barely scratches the surface of the deeper issues in this field. Worse, Gregory comes across as somewhat hypocritical. In her introduction she explains her preference for use of present tense in her novels (sounding way too much like she’s trying to defend herself, by the way, which a professional author should not stoop to), since, so Gregory claims, use of present tense allows an author to avoid writing with too much hindsight. And yet I often feel that Gregory’s novels are blemished by too much foreknowledge – take for example Anne Boleyn’s curse upon Jane Seymour in The Other Boleyn Girl, in which she all too presciently curses Jane and her son (at that stage not yet even conceived!) to early deaths, or Elizabeth Woodville’s curse in The White Queen that whoever is responsible for her son’s murder shall have his eldest son die and his surviving son shall have all his sons die also and have no heir, which is of course exactly what happens later in history to the Tudor dynasty and speaks with way too much hindsight! Gregory also derides the omniscient third person voice in non-fiction histories, especially as she feels it leads readers to accept what is written without question (not true, as I, as a reader, will happily confirm) but then goes on to use it in her own essay on Jacquetta. Perhaps the worst insult, Gregory puts forwards the position that “However vivid and powerful the historical novel, I believe it should be based on the recorded facts and never deviate from them when they are available.” This alone was almost enough to make me ceremonially bang the book against the wall in disgust, but I persevered for the sake of the other two authors. I have long since lost count of the number of times Gregory’s novels have flat out ignored recorded fact. Where is the recorded fact that Elizabeth Woodville was a genuine witch who conjured up magical storms to help her husband? Where is the recorded fact that Anne Boleyn was “guilty of at least one murder”? Where is the evidence that the Battle of Edgecote (1469 CE) actually happened in 1470 CE and was the event that restored Henry VI to the throne? Still, at least Ms Gregory can take some comfort from the fact that here is a reader who is not “accustomed to accepting information from a concealed narrator”. All this before I even came to Gregory’s “essay”. Like other readers, I couldn’t help but notice that Gregory’s “essay” on Jacquetta St. Pol contained an awful lot of “probably”s and “likely”s. That’s to be expected, given the gaps in the historical record where Jacquetta does not appear. But Gregory does not explain why she thinks the scenarios she presents are the most likely. I am inclined to agree with her conclusions, but I want to know how Gregory got there, I want to read Gregory argue her case. How did she reach this interpretation that so-and-so scenario is the most likely? I meant it when I said I was a reader that questions what is presented to me. Gregory presents us with a linear description of Jacquetta’s life and fills in the gaps with the most probable, but she doesn’t take us behind the deductions or invite us to examine the actual sources and evidence for Jacquetta that do exist. That’s the reason I put quotation marks around the word “essay” when referring to Gregory’s section here. In academic circles this is what would be called narrative, as opposed to the next level which is critical analysis. It’s a regurgitation of events – which may be reasonably interesting if you’re interested in Jacquetta St. Pol, which I am – but it doesn’t hold up as a piece of serious academia. There’s another reason why it doesn’t make the grade, and that’s the referencing. Gregory explains in the introduction that the decision was taken not to include referencing in the text of the essays in order to make the book easier to read for the layperson (clearly as a qualified historian and archaeologist I am not her target audience) – they’re not even footnoted. After each essay there is a bibliography and a notes section where the authors go back to quotes they’ve used and finally tell us where they are from. There’s just one problem – whilst the author and work are given, the exact page reference is not, meaning that anyone wanting to check the references and do further research must search through the entire work themselves to find one reference. Serious academia is exacting about precision referencing, to put it mildly, which is another reason why this book shouldn’t be taken as a weighty authority on its subject. It’d be worth keeping in mind Gregory’s statement that the book is geared to the layperson – it’s an interesting narrative but no more, and if one wanted to take Gregory’s advice of “do what I say but not what I do”, the reader would do well to question what is presented to us here and not take The Women of the Cousins’ War as the final word. Back to Gregory’s “essay” on Jacquetta. Aside from the usual repetition and Gregory’s propensity to cite a person’s name and titulary time after time as though her readers have memories like sieves (hello, “John, Duke of Bedford”, how I’ve missed you. Not.), and the aforementioned issues, it just had a tendency to be rather meandering. Not that I’m a-mile-a-minute, high-octane action-junkie when it comes to my reading selections, but a good quality writer knows the value of being concise and succinct. Perhaps Gregory should meditate upon this literary gem the next time she thinks about writing a 41-page introduction: “Brevity is the soul of wit” (William Shakespeare; Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2, 90) P.S. To decide on a rating I weighted each essay section as 30% and the introduction as 10% and then rated each one out of ten in turn, added them up out of 100 (multiply the 30% weighted sections by three) and divided by 10, to get an overall rating of 5 out of 10. For anyone interested in a good essay on Jacquetta St. Pol I recommend Susan Higginbotham's essay, which I've linked to below: http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/subp...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brooklyn Tayla

    What an utter delightful read - as a history buff, especially one so enthralled in The Cousins' War and Tudor England, this book really taught me more about the amazing women of strength that were Elizabeth Woodville, Jacquetta of Luxembourg and Margaret Beaufort. Each essay was written smoothly and didn't sugar coat anything, and everything was superbly researched.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jemidar

    Classification: History Lite. The worst thing about this book is Philippa Gregory's involvement, both the introduction and her essay on Jaquetta. The best thing is the final essay by Michael Jones on Margaret Beaufort. David Baldwin's section on Elizabeth Woodville falls somewhere between the two and was okay. Michael Jones' contribution pushed this up to a three star read for me, before that it was languishing down around the two stars. I only wish I could give it more because his essay was excel Classification: History Lite. The worst thing about this book is Philippa Gregory's involvement, both the introduction and her essay on Jaquetta. The best thing is the final essay by Michael Jones on Margaret Beaufort. David Baldwin's section on Elizabeth Woodville falls somewhere between the two and was okay. Michael Jones' contribution pushed this up to a three star read for me, before that it was languishing down around the two stars. I only wish I could give it more because his essay was excellent and worthy of a higher overall rating but his colleagues let the side down, especially PG. If you want my advice, skip this book entirely and go straight to Jones' bio of Margaret Beaufort The King's Mother: Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby. Other titles by Baldwin may also be worth checking out.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)

    If you are like me and you've truly enjoyed Gregory's The White Queen, The Red Queen, and upcoming The Lady of the Rivers, or you simply want to learn more about three remarkable women from the War of the Roses who are often overlooked, then this non-fiction books is a must read. The first portion focuses on Jacquetta of Luxembourg, who is the mother of Elizabeth Woodville (The White Queen) and the main character in Gregory's The Lady of the Rivers. The second section focuses on Elizabeth Woodvi If you are like me and you've truly enjoyed Gregory's The White Queen, The Red Queen, and upcoming The Lady of the Rivers, or you simply want to learn more about three remarkable women from the War of the Roses who are often overlooked, then this non-fiction books is a must read. The first portion focuses on Jacquetta of Luxembourg, who is the mother of Elizabeth Woodville (The White Queen) and the main character in Gregory's The Lady of the Rivers. The second section focuses on Elizabeth Woodville, who ends up as Queen and is daughter to Jacquetta. History buffs may remember her as the mother to the princes in the tower. The last segment of the book focuses on Margaret Beaufort, The Red Queen, and founder of the Tudor dynasty. The Women of the Cousins' War is an excellent resource and the perfect companion to Gregory's Cousins' War series. Gregory wrote the first portion on Jacquetta herself, so immediately I was pulled in by her writing style. Even though it is non-fiction, Gregory has a knack of hooking readers in and captivating us with her knowledge; plus, Jacquetta's life is so fascinating. It's no wonder I was easily hooked. Jacquetta's second marriage to Richard Woodville always enthralls me as it defied convention since he wasn't of royal blood; essentially, she married for love. Her stints with magic and accusations of witchcraft also add to my amusement. I absolutely loved learning more about Jacquetta's incredible life. The second segment is by historian David Baldwin and it concentrates on Elizabeth Woodville, whose rise from a struggling single mother to a Queen is downright fascinating. Although I felt Baldwin's portion wasn't as easy to read as Gregory's, it still filled in the many gaps in my knowledge and answered my many questions concerning Elizabeth's life. After reading The White Queen, I had so many questions about the princes in the tower and Baldwin touched on many of the possible theories. The last section is about Margaret Beaufort and is written by historian Michael Jones. I found Margaret to be a snooze-fest in Gregory's The Red Queen, so I was hesitant to read this portion. However, Jones really brought her to life. I was blown away by her childhood. I knew it was pretty horrible, but Jones explains it a bit more. I found this to be very helpful and ultimately, it explained why she acted the way she did in The Red Queen. After reading this write-up on Margaret, I've come to respect her more; you can't deny how devoted she was to her cause. The Women of the Cousins' War is displayed proudly on my bookshelf right next to the Gregory's other books from the Cousins' War series. Like I said before, not only does this non-fiction text bridge any gaps in my learning about the War of the Roes, it also helps me to enjoy Gregory's series that much more.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Ellis

    In spite of all the criticism there is out there, I have no trouble enjoying this author's books, and this one is the best so far. I try not to get too hung up on finding fault, especially since I am far from ever being a qualified historian, and always assume when reading historical fiction of any era that there is going to be a great deal of speculation and insertion of the author's interpretation and personal preference. I found the introduction, written by Ms. Gregory, quite honest and open In spite of all the criticism there is out there, I have no trouble enjoying this author's books, and this one is the best so far. I try not to get too hung up on finding fault, especially since I am far from ever being a qualified historian, and always assume when reading historical fiction of any era that there is going to be a great deal of speculation and insertion of the author's interpretation and personal preference. I found the introduction, written by Ms. Gregory, quite honest and open about the difficulty of combining historical "fact" with entertaining speculations, and I don't believe the author has the desire to present herself or her books as anything other than what they are, historical fiction, meaning she is free to interpret things the way she wants. Her section on Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, is honest about the quantity of information that is NOT known about her and the necessity to fill in details based on other resources. The second section on Elizabeth Woodville, written by David Baldwin, is most interesting. Elizabeth is always delightful to read about! The third section on Margaret Beaufort was revealing to me. I have always been content to see nothing good about her since I have ingrained dislike for her son, Henry VII, and the Tudors. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and hope that I learned quite a bit! In spite of necessary speculation, there is a treasure chest of knowledge in its pages.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Luci

    This work did not add much to my knowledge of these three women. Much like with Weir's biography of Katherine Swynford, it is hard to make any real statements regarding what these women really thought as there is a dearth of primary sources. It is a nice tie in piece to casual Gregory fans - but if you read historical writers such as Weir or Fraser, there is little new here. In my opinion, Weir should stick to history, while Gregory is a fine historical fiction novelist.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    This book is a departure for author Philippa Gregory who is well known for her historical novels. This book has short biographies of 3 women whom Gregory has profiled in her fictional series "The Cousin's War". Gregory wrote one bio and invited noted scholars to do the other two. In a 37 page introduction Gregory tells more about how and why this book came to be. The first subject, Jaquetta of Luxembourg, has the least trace in the historical record. Gregory makes the most of what she can find bu This book is a departure for author Philippa Gregory who is well known for her historical novels. This book has short biographies of 3 women whom Gregory has profiled in her fictional series "The Cousin's War". Gregory wrote one bio and invited noted scholars to do the other two. In a 37 page introduction Gregory tells more about how and why this book came to be. The first subject, Jaquetta of Luxembourg, has the least trace in the historical record. Gregory makes the most of what she can find but I have to admit, the more intriguing woman in this chapter is Margaret of Anjou. Jaquetta became a wealthy widow at age 19, remarried for love and bore 14 children. Jaquetta's oldest daughter, Elizabeth Woodville, was both a Queen Consort and a Queen Mother; she is also the mother of the "Princes of the Tower", whose fate remains a mystery. The profile is by David Baldwin author of Elizabeth Woodville: Mother of the Princes in the Tower. As queen, she saw to it that the large Woodville (Lancasterian) family received lands, commissions and favorable marriages. These honors, coming from the Yorkist King, Henry IV, added to the fuel of the "Cousin's War". While Margaret Beaufort was the woman I knew most about, I did not know about her father or her early marriage. Because of her dedication to her son, I had no idea that she hardly saw him in childhood nor that she is considered a suspect regarding the disappearance of the princes in the tower. Her portrait is by Michael Jones, author of The King's Mother: Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby. While each of these three women led amazing lives, Margaret Beaufort's was and remains the most interesting to me. This book provides a good overview of both the women and their times. Those who are knowledgeable will probably know a lot of what is covered. Each portrait is introduced with a clear genealogy and concludes with an annotated list of sources. There are a few color plates, a few black an white renderings, and there is a useful index.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    Well if this book proves something then it is that history may be written by men, but it is not entirely made by men. All three women in this book were women of deed rather then thought alone. The duchess, after becoming a widow, first secured a happy second marriage with the man of her choice and then despite everything managed to help her family rise to the highest position in the land and actually hold it. You can't but respect that. The queen is no doubt harshly dealt with by history (which g Well if this book proves something then it is that history may be written by men, but it is not entirely made by men. All three women in this book were women of deed rather then thought alone. The duchess, after becoming a widow, first secured a happy second marriage with the man of her choice and then despite everything managed to help her family rise to the highest position in the land and actually hold it. You can't but respect that. The queen is no doubt harshly dealt with by history (which given the fact that her dynasty gave way to the Tudors was mainly written by her opposition so they would hardly judge fairly). I get the impression that she and her husband were a very good match and she as queen (having practical experience managing her own household) did a good job as queen as well. So she did not deserve to be brushed under the rug like that. Now on to the queens mother. I will admit that she is my least favourite of the three because for such a pious person she sure did undervalue loyalty. I get the impression that she was mostly loyal to her own personal destiny which her son had to fullfill. Her other loyalties could shift at will. Now she was certainly strong and a devoted mother. She also kept her head cool under pressure and recovered from the childhood trauma of her marriage (which can't have been easy). I understand how that would affect her. However that does not mean her every thought or ambition is automaticly the will of God. She may have wanted her son on the throne and God may well have said alright then, but you will regret asking for this. That does not change that the tudor dynasty never had a solid claim on the throne. I believe it was said Katherine of Aragon was more royal then her husband, so that can't have set well with anyone in the family. So all in all that hard won crown seems a bit of a poisonous gift to me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    I don't get on well with Philippa Gregory's fiction, so I'm not terribly surprised that I wasn't a great fan of this either. I do like David Baldwin's work, though I think I've already read a full biography of Elizabeth Woodville by him; Michael Jones' work here is strong enough and based solidly enough on actual research to intrigue me. I actually quite liked Gregory's introduction, ridiculously long as it is. She does actually raise valid points about the writers of history, and about how hist I don't get on well with Philippa Gregory's fiction, so I'm not terribly surprised that I wasn't a great fan of this either. I do like David Baldwin's work, though I think I've already read a full biography of Elizabeth Woodville by him; Michael Jones' work here is strong enough and based solidly enough on actual research to intrigue me. I actually quite liked Gregory's introduction, ridiculously long as it is. She does actually raise valid points about the writers of history, and about how historical fiction and historical fact interact. I can at least relate to her powerful interest in the subject. On the other hand, there's very little actually known about Jacquetta, the biography she writes, and it reads very much like the fiction books she's already written, stripped of dialogue and sprinkled with "maybe". Overall, I can see this being interesting to people casually interested in the period, with enough experience of non-fiction not to complain too much about the equivocal statements (guys, if they stuck to the facts we know for absolute certain, we could say they were born, married, had children, and died -- often, that's about it; if we presented speculation as fact, that would be rather dishonest and not helpful at all to the field). I can't really recommend it for people who've already delved into non-fiction on the period: this doesn't offer much of anything new.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    I was going to give this 3 stars for shoddy workmanship, but decided on 5 stars for pure entertainment value. Ms. Gregory found two hungry Plantagenet scholars - poor man's Alison Weir and David Starkey, and, by throwing big sales numbers and money and a chance at real honest to goodness publicity at them, got them to write a third each of "her" new "history" book, and oh boy do they tow the party line, right down to overtly endorsing Ms Gregory's books. Check out the flap jacket - Gregory's got I was going to give this 3 stars for shoddy workmanship, but decided on 5 stars for pure entertainment value. Ms. Gregory found two hungry Plantagenet scholars - poor man's Alison Weir and David Starkey, and, by throwing big sales numbers and money and a chance at real honest to goodness publicity at them, got them to write a third each of "her" new "history" book, and oh boy do they tow the party line, right down to overtly endorsing Ms Gregory's books. Check out the flap jacket - Gregory's got the "posing" face down pat, Jones looks like he's a at a cocktail party he wishes he wasn't invited to, and Baldwin has the 6-year-old maturity level grin on his face of "look-at-me-I'm-in-a-book-that's-actually-going-to-sell!" Most amusing.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    Two British historians team up with Philippa Gregory (queen of revisionist history, aka the lady that wrote The Other Boleyn Girl) to write the histories of three high-profile women of the Wars of the Roses: Jacquetta of Luxemburg, her daughter Elizabeth Woodville, and Elizabeth's mother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort. The book does not start encouragingly. Doubtless in response to the (hopefully thousands of pages of) criticism her historical fiction has gotten, Gregory has prepared a 43 page introd Two British historians team up with Philippa Gregory (queen of revisionist history, aka the lady that wrote The Other Boleyn Girl) to write the histories of three high-profile women of the Wars of the Roses: Jacquetta of Luxemburg, her daughter Elizabeth Woodville, and Elizabeth's mother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort. The book does not start encouragingly. Doubtless in response to the (hopefully thousands of pages of) criticism her historical fiction has gotten, Gregory has prepared a 43 page introduction, with such scintillating section titles as "What is history?" After defining history for us, she vears wildly off track to talk about Shakespeare's plays, defend her various favorite Tudor women, ramble on about the virgin/whore dichotomy, and finish with an overview of women's oppression and erasure throughout history. Gregory then tries to write a complete biography of Jacquetta of Luxembourg in 96 pages. Her job is made easier by the fact that we know basically nothing about Jacquetta. Instead, Gregory gives a history of the period in which she lived, from the Hundred Years' War to Henry VI's breakdowns to the Wars of the Roses. Periodically, she returns to Jacquetta by speculating what she was doing or thinking at that time. Random assertions like: "Jacquetta and the queen probably watched King Henry put on his battle armor and ride out of London at the head of a royal army to command the rebels to go home." are sprinkled about once every two pages, to maintain the pretence that this is a biography of Jacquetta. But really, we know very little about her movements and absolutely nothing about her thoughts (no letters, no notes in her book of hours, nuthin); we don't even know how many children she had. She was married to men who led in battle, lady in waiting to the fascinating Margaret of Anjou, and accused of witchcraft by Warwick the Kingmaker; I'm sure Jacquetta had a very exciting life. But we don't know, and all of Gregory's "maybe"s and "probably"s and "possibly"s just emphasize that. Then, after all this speculation and bemoaning how little we know about Jacquetta, Gregory has the temerity to snipe at other historians for not writing her biography. No one wrote it because there's nothing to write, obviously! Jacquetta's eldest daughter was Elizabeth Woodville, who married first John Grey (a Lancastrian) and then Edward IV, the York king. Baldwin's task of summing up her life is hampered first by a lack of evidence, and second by his own tendentiousness. He defends her against every charge any historian has ever laid at her feet, making his history a bit tangled. Like all bios of Elizabeth Woodville, there's a long section of speculation about what she knew and when she knew it about Richard III and her sons' fates. Baldwin is strangely positive that Elizabeth Woodville&Richard III conspired to smuggle Prince Richard out of the Tower; his only proof is that Elizabeth tried to persuade her son Thomas Grey to return to England and reconcile with Richard III. (This theory makes no sense to me, because Richard III had no reason to kill one prince but keep the other alive, particularly since his son&heir was still alive at this point. And if Richard HAD kept one of the princes alive, why didn't he let other people see him? Once Richard's own son Edward had died, he lacked an heir, so people flocked to Henry VII. But if Richard had been able to proclaim the last king's son as his heir, and produce him, that would have quieted a lot of the trouble. Since he didn't do it, it's clear he didn't think any of Edward IV's sons survived. And there's no reason Elizabeth would have gone along with such a threat--Richard III was able to get her to come out of sanctuary because he'd persuaded every one else he meant her family no harm. If she'd had any proof at all that he had killed, or might kill, one of the princes, she could have turned it over to the many powerful men thronging at her door, just waiting for a reason. Plus, if Elizabeth thought a prince survived, she sure as hell would have sought him out.) His evidence that Elizabeth was part of the Simnel conspiracy is on slightly more solid ground, but still pretty shady: a common boy was taught to impersonate Edward IV's brother's son to gather troops, and after Henry VII crushed the rebellion he punished a number of people, including Elizabeth Woodville. It's possible she was part of the rebellion but, had it succeeded, it would have deposed her daughter, the queen. Revenge (on the man who'd killed the man who killed her family? sounds unlikely) is the possible motivation given, but it sounds unlikely to me. Plus, as Baldwin admits, the very next year Henry VII was considering making Elizabeth Woodville the next Queen of Scotland--why do that for someone if they'd rebelled against you recently? That said, she did have a very small allowance and (years later) a tiny funeral, but Henry VII's infamous penny-pinching would explain that. Poor Michael Jones is left just 74 pages to sum up Margaret Beaufort. It's too bad, because not only is his the most readable history out of the bunch, but we also have a good amount of evidence of her life, some in her own hand, and a great deal of posthumous history from her confessor. Margaret was the daughter of the Duke of Somerset, descendent of John of Gaunt and his mistress, Katherine Swynford. Henry VI had her married to his half-brother, Edmund Tudor. Even though his wife was only twelve, Edmund immediately got her pregnant, because as long as she gave birth to a child, Edmund would have lifelong interest in her estate. As a sort of karmic revenge, Edmund sickened and died not long after, leaving Margaret a 6-months pregnant, barely-pubescent widow. Astonishingly, Margaret gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Henry, and then immediately thereafter negotiated another marriage for herself, this time to Henry Stafford, second son of the Duke of Buckingham. When the Lancastrians were defeated and Edward IV took the throne, Margaret's son Henry Tudor was forcibly transfered out of her care. Despite the rocky start to their acquaintance, Margaret and her husband were close friends with Edward IV, and managed to get many of their relatives out of prison and their lands restored. (Margaret's brother Henry Beaufort promptly repaid Edward IV by rejoining the Lancastrians.) Eventually, she even managed to get Edward IV to agree to let her son return to England--except that Edward IV abruptly died, Richard III took the throne, and rebellions spread through the land. At this point, 1483, she started pushing for Henry Tudor to be the next king. By 1485, Henry had secured enough backing to invade, and defeated Richard III in battle at Bosworth. Henry VII was crowned, the Tudor dynasty began, and Margaret Beaufort became basically the most powerful woman in the entire country, because although they'd hardly seen each other in decades, there as still a deep and enduring bond between them. She remained Henry VII's confidant and right hand woman until his death. She outlived him by a mere month. Overall? The first half is hardly worth reading, and Baldwin and Jones's sections are ok but nothing special. I'd only recommend this people who love Philippa Gregory's historical fiction, but not to anyone looking for a rigorous probe into the women of the Wars of the Roses.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Roos

    3.5 stars

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    As someone who doesn't read very much nonfiction, I was a little apprehensive about reading The Women of the Cousins' War, but I was so fascinated by Elizabeth Woodville of The White Queen and Margaret Beaufort of The Red Queen, that I was drawn to this book, especially since it comes from Philippa Gregory. For the book, Gregory teamed up with two other historians, David Baldwin and Michael Jones, to explore the real lives of the women behind her novels. Gregory opens the book was a unique introd As someone who doesn't read very much nonfiction, I was a little apprehensive about reading The Women of the Cousins' War, but I was so fascinated by Elizabeth Woodville of The White Queen and Margaret Beaufort of The Red Queen, that I was drawn to this book, especially since it comes from Philippa Gregory. For the book, Gregory teamed up with two other historians, David Baldwin and Michael Jones, to explore the real lives of the women behind her novels. Gregory opens the book was a unique introduction that explores the role (or lack thereof) of women in history, as well as Gregory's personal reasons for writing novels about this little-known women. Most interestingly, she gives readers a glimpse into her own writing process, own own motivations for writing what she does, and the difficulties of doing historical research that lead to large holes that are later filled in with fiction. Gregory takes the lead with the first essay on Jacquetta of Luxembourg, the mother of Elizabeth Woodville. Gregory explains that when she went to research Jacquetta for her novel The Lady of the Rivers, there was no biography available about her, so she had to conduct her own research to learn about Jacquetta. Gregory pens a fascinating account of Jacquetta's life, tracing it from her birth up to her death and through the many complex politics between. Of all the essays in the book, I found Gregory's to be the easiest to read and enjoy, mostly because it pulls on her fiction writing abilities and seems to explore more of her subject's motivations and emotions than the other essays. Next comes David Baldwin, who pens an essay on the life of Elizabeth Woodville, Jacquetta's daughter. Though filled with precise accuracy, I found it to be a little bit dry and difficult to read. This was probably because my brain had honed into Gregory's style in the previous essay, and Baldwin chose to stick more strongly to fact, and didn't theorize much on what Elizabeth likely thought or felt. While informative, I wouldn't consider Baldwin's essay light reading. Last, historian Michael Jones chronicles the life of Margaret Beaufort, the virtually unknown matriarch of the Tudor family and grandmother to Henry VIII. Thankfully, Jones' writing reads much more smoothly than Baldwin's, and I particularly enjoyed the fact that Jones went further back than Margaret's birth to discuss the unique origins of the Beaufort family. Giving all this back story really helped to put Margaret and her life into context, and I felt like I had a greater understanding of Margaret's "character." Also, I kind of hate to say it, but I found Jones' short essay on Margaret to be a little more interesting than The Red Queen, which I thought was the weaker of Gregory's first two novels on the Cousins' War. A must-read for history buffs and hardcore Gregory fans, Women of the Cousins' War helps to reveal who these little-known women were and why their lives are worth the study and interest of people today. Complete with family trees, maps, portraits and other images of the period, the lives of these fascinating women from history fully come to life.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Miller (True Book Addict)

    The Women of the Cousins' War was written to bring to light the "truth" behind the women featured in Philippa Gregory's Cousins' War trilogy, The White Queen, The Red Queen, and The Lady of the Rivers. Jacquetta (The Lady of the Rivers), Elizabeth Woodville (The White Queen), and Margaret Beaufort (The Red Queen) take center stage in this exploration of their lives and how they were very much a part of the Cousins' War, or the Wars of the Roses. I have to admit to not knowing much previously abo The Women of the Cousins' War was written to bring to light the "truth" behind the women featured in Philippa Gregory's Cousins' War trilogy, The White Queen, The Red Queen, and The Lady of the Rivers. Jacquetta (The Lady of the Rivers), Elizabeth Woodville (The White Queen), and Margaret Beaufort (The Red Queen) take center stage in this exploration of their lives and how they were very much a part of the Cousins' War, or the Wars of the Roses. I have to admit to not knowing much previously about the Wars of the Roses except for the most minute details. I found the accounts of the events very interesting and thorough in this book. While Philippa's "essay" was supposed to be about Jacquetta (mother of Elizabeth Woodville), her section really centers on the unfolding of the events in the Cousins' War...we really do not learn too overly much about Jacquetta. However, I don't fault Gregory for this, as she does state in the introduction that very little is known about Jacquetta. What Gregory does reveal about Jacquetta is that she was a loyal and staunch woman who bore fourteen children--a major feat in that era. I found that David Baldwin's account of Elizabeth Woodville (wife of Edward IV and mother to the princes in the tower and the future queen of England, Elizabeth, mother to Henry VIII) was the most interesting, as he explores both sides of what was said about her. On one hand, she has been maligned as a witch, that she obtained her marriage to Edward IV through sorcery and that once she achieved such high status, she became a cold and calculating person. However, in some accounts of the time, she is portrayed as a generous and charitable woman who was patron to many religious institutions. She also had a great love of learning and the written word. The final woman featured in the book by Michael Jones, Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry VI and grandmother to Henry VIII), would seem to have had one end in mind and that was the advancement of her son, Henry. According to Jones's account, this was quite the truth. Throughout the maneuverings of the Wars of the Roses, Margaret had only one goal and that was seeing her son on the throne and, as we know, she succeeded. Margaret was the most tenacious of the three women, in my opinion. In conclusion, I have to say that I enjoyed this book thoroughly. I now have more knowledge about the Wars of the Roses (the Cousins' War) and I look forward to reading more about the all the other individuals who were involved in the events. Also, I have not yet read Gregory's Cousins' War trilogy (although I own two of the three books) and I feel that when I do, this book has given me great insight into the true events behind the fictionalized stories in the books.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ray Campbell

    This is a collection of essays by several historians including Philippa Gregory which cover the real history of the history fictionalized in her series: The Cousins' War. The book begins with a historiography, history of history, which discusses the art of history and the merits of historical fiction. I have to say that everyone who can read should at least read this essay. She articulates the nature of history as an art and explains that all historians invent, even if only by the facts they cho This is a collection of essays by several historians including Philippa Gregory which cover the real history of the history fictionalized in her series: The Cousins' War. The book begins with a historiography, history of history, which discusses the art of history and the merits of historical fiction. I have to say that everyone who can read should at least read this essay. She articulates the nature of history as an art and explains that all historians invent, even if only by the facts they choose to emphasize. Thus, when the chronology is correct and the story and characters are based on fact, the invention of dialogue based on scholarly research, is useful in bringing characters to life thus making "real" history accessible. I really liked this part of the book. The essays go on to explain the current state of scholarship on the women of the Cousins' War series and a very solid history of each. The histories are, by necessity, more oriented toward the men whose lives these women were connected to since their records survive. However, they are clearly bent toward explaining the context of the development of the women of the Cousins' War as they appear. In other words, Philippa Gregory did not just take a timeline and flesh it out. Whether from the diaries, letter and official records of the women or conjecture based on the documents of the men, the women of the Cousins' War are real and Gregory's treatment of them on strongly based on scholarship. As a straight history of the period, the book is also solid. The Cousin's War is a solid world of historical fiction which covers the lives of the women who played the largest parts in the conflict. However, if you simply want to round out an understand of the War of the Roses, this is a great way to go. By focusing on the women, one gets a well rounded account of the politics, family intrigue and personal experience of the players rather than a recounting of battles and resolutions of the counsel. Again - solid history, great historiography and engaging reading - as straight histories go.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Kelly

    I love Phillipa Gregory, not only her historical fiction series but her contemporary works as well. I generally like to read the historical fiction versions of these famous ladies portrayed in this book and I am not a great fan of non fiction biographies of the medieval era as they can be pretty dry. This book however was awesome. I especially enjoyed the introduction by Phillipa Gregory as she clarified how she writes and how she researches. My feeling is that all authors of historical fiction I love Phillipa Gregory, not only her historical fiction series but her contemporary works as well. I generally like to read the historical fiction versions of these famous ladies portrayed in this book and I am not a great fan of non fiction biographies of the medieval era as they can be pretty dry. This book however was awesome. I especially enjoyed the introduction by Phillipa Gregory as she clarified how she writes and how she researches. My feeling is that all authors of historical fiction sometimes embellish the stories of famous people to keep the story interesting and I as a reader do not find fault with that. I read a book for its entertainment value and if I learn something new, that is great too. This book is full of interesting information about a few of the most interesting ladies of England. Without them history would be totally different than it is now. A very interesting and entertaining book written by three very well informed historians. I will be putting this book next to my other Phillipa Gregory books.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    This is a great companion novel to the White Queen, Red Queen and the Kingmakers Daughter series. It is an academic accounting of the events, during the series, thus I would not recommend it to those who are not interested in the history that inspired the books. I found it a pleasure to read, being greatly interested in the wars of the roses. I read each corresponding section before the novel. For example I read the section of Margaret Beufort before reading, “The Kings Mother” section. I found t This is a great companion novel to the White Queen, Red Queen and the Kingmakers Daughter series. It is an academic accounting of the events, during the series, thus I would not recommend it to those who are not interested in the history that inspired the books. I found it a pleasure to read, being greatly interested in the wars of the roses. I read each corresponding section before the novel. For example I read the section of Margaret Beufort before reading, “The Kings Mother” section. I found this very helpful in understanding the political significance of the events in the book. I only wish there was a section on Elizabeth of York to go with the White Princess.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rio (Lynne)

    3.25 Stars. I thoroughly enjoyed Jones' part about Margaret Beaufort. I liked Baldwin's section on Elizabeth. She wasn't the conniving upstart I have been reading about lately. As for PG's take on Jacquetta, it was more Melusine and witchcraft oriented than I would have liked it to have been.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Jones

    Non fiction - great account of the war of the roses or the cousin's war.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Chan

    I bought this book without realising this is not fiction by Philippa Gregory. Rather it is a book written by 3 prominent historians discussing the lives of the 3 women in the Cousin's War. I was a tad reluctant to start this book as I thought it would be a dry historical narration but oh boy, how mistaken I was. Written from the perspective of offering insights into a woman's role in medieval England, this is an extremely engaging book and I only wished I picked it up after reading the Cousin's I bought this book without realising this is not fiction by Philippa Gregory. Rather it is a book written by 3 prominent historians discussing the lives of the 3 women in the Cousin's War. I was a tad reluctant to start this book as I thought it would be a dry historical narration but oh boy, how mistaken I was. Written from the perspective of offering insights into a woman's role in medieval England, this is an extremely engaging book and I only wished I picked it up after reading the Cousin's War while the events were still fresh in my mind.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    This was enjoyable to listen to, but when a book is supposed to be history, and the writer declares they’ve dispensed with the custom of footnotes, I’m skeptical about the veracity of the version of history they’re telling.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    http://iwriteinbooks.wordpress.com/20... It is true what they say: “you can take the girl out of politics but you’ll never take the politics out of the girl”. Don’t know that one? Well, it’s an old standby for me. Since I was a little kid, system dynamics and the stories of politics and power have always been of high interest. Now, I’ve generally relegated my interest to the past few decades or, at least, the last couple of centuries. It turns out that the same old games have been going on for as http://iwriteinbooks.wordpress.com/20... It is true what they say: “you can take the girl out of politics but you’ll never take the politics out of the girl”. Don’t know that one? Well, it’s an old standby for me. Since I was a little kid, system dynamics and the stories of politics and power have always been of high interest. Now, I’ve generally relegated my interest to the past few decades or, at least, the last couple of centuries. It turns out that the same old games have been going on for as long as we’ve had any semblance of organized society. Philippa Gregory’s latest non-fiction rundown of the ladies involved in The Cousins’ War (betterment known, now, as The War of the Roses), demonstrates that midieval political life and strife were not very different than today’s drama. In her joint project, with fellow historians David Baldwin and Micheal Jones, Gregory gives readers the blueprint material behind her three fictional women who have become the focus of her Cousins’ War series. I have to say that I’ve now read two out of the three in the series and it’s really quite delightful. For readers who love the time period but have been burned out on Tudor Mania, recently, Gregory ‘s new set of books offers a welcome relief. As far as the nonfiction account, this is a very interesting format by which to back up the novels. While the history itself reads a bit like a modern-day mobster movie (family loyalties, covert offings and general, social unrest) my favorite part of the book was Gregory’s opening piece about why she began writing about the three featured women in the first place. Much like Virginia Woolf’s observations in A Room of One’s Own, Gregory highlights the serious setbacks women have faced over time and why women have been shut out of politics and thus, history. Those who have the means and allowance to learn, do, but those who are shut out by social repression or finances, simply don’t make it into the books as they are not able to get onto the field in the first place. Of course, this has, thankfully changed today, in large part, even though money and background still create obstacles for so many. I won’t get too deep but I will say that this introduction and thought provoking bit from Gregory was one of my favorite parts of the book. In that line of thinking, the only part that I found I had an issue with was in the other end of things. After all three stories are told, the book simply ends. I would have liked a bit of conclusive wrap up on how telling these stories will perhaps effect the history of future women in politics. No book can be perfect, of course, and the whole thing is well written and well executed despite my desire for more. This is a susinct little telling that I definitely recommend it to Gregory fans and just history fans in general, especially (but not only) those interested in women’s role in politics.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I'm sure there is an excellent book on this subject out there. This is not it. This is mediocre at best. Instead, it's anattempt to take advantage of Phillippa Gregory's virtual one-woman stranglehold on Tudor historical fiction but putting out a book about the three women of the War of the Roses. Let's face it, that's a pretty good subject. Unfortunately, though Gregory might be an excellent fiction writer, she's not an enthralling non-fiction writer. Those are two very very very different skill I'm sure there is an excellent book on this subject out there. This is not it. This is mediocre at best. Instead, it's anattempt to take advantage of Phillippa Gregory's virtual one-woman stranglehold on Tudor historical fiction but putting out a book about the three women of the War of the Roses. Let's face it, that's a pretty good subject. Unfortunately, though Gregory might be an excellent fiction writer, she's not an enthralling non-fiction writer. Those are two very very very different skill sets. Compared to fictional characters, real people tend not to do what you tell them to and you have to stick to the facts. Places where the book really lost me: -When the author of the essay on Elizabeth Woodville postulated that the "most plausible end" for the princes in the tower is that they were sent to a farm somewhere to live life out in obscurity. The princes were not cats. This is not a lie I need to survive. I'm a pretty nice person I think, but if I was Richard and I wanted to hold on to my throne, I wouldn't let those kids out of my sight, much less off to a farm somewhere with a pinky promise not to tell anyone. This is a guy who executed Hastings in a trial that lasted just long enough to sharpen the ax. I'm okay with that being a possibility. But it is certainly not the "most plausible." -"No really, Elizabeth Woodville might have been a witch" There were pages about the possibility that EW had fun with the dark arts. Side discussion, yes. Repeated allusions to the fact her family claimed descent from a sea serpent as "proof" that she was into witchcraft...no. Yes, I get that Rick III accused her of the same, but he also was trying to get the throne. I would say a lot of things to get the throne of England, and I'm not even two kids away from the the throne. It's not saying this isn't worth a mention, but to discuss it as a real "was she really a witch even though she went to church" question is a bit weird. -I may blame the editors for this one, and yes it's a small thing. So George Stanley (son of Thomas Stanley, married to Margaret Beaufort) married Joan le Strange [no relation to Bellatrix] who is cited as the sister of Queen Elizabeth--uh. no. She's the niece, daughter of Elizabeth's sister Jacquetta. The odd thing is she's described as "the sister of the queen, Joan, daughter of John le Strange and Jacquetta Woodville." I think the editors just got a bit of "oooh Jacquetta, must be the same one," but I hate sloppy editing. Pay your editors well, publishers, or you get stupid mistakes like this. Overall, it's just slapped together and rushed and dumb. I'm glad I didn't pay for it [it was on OysterBooks--which I will miss desperately].

  25. 4 out of 5

    RJay

    Being what my friend's call a Plantagenet junkie, I was avidly looking forward to reading this book. I've read many of this author's books and have enjoyed them - my favorite being The Constant Princess. Following the players in the see-saw of power is daunting. I keep copies of family trees at my side to help keep things straight. Reading this book is no exception. There is no doubt that Jaquetta, Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort were key players to and in the action. But because they Being what my friend's call a Plantagenet junkie, I was avidly looking forward to reading this book. I've read many of this author's books and have enjoyed them - my favorite being The Constant Princess. Following the players in the see-saw of power is daunting. I keep copies of family trees at my side to help keep things straight. Reading this book is no exception. There is no doubt that Jaquetta, Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort were key players to and in the action. But because they were women even less is in the records than for male contemporaries. If you're like me and crave a better understanding of the people (not just names in history books) you should add this book to your list. However, I found it difficult to understand why the authors chose to emphasize certains time periods in these women's lives and almost ignored others. For example, there is a great deal about Jaquetta's life prior to Edward IV's taking the thrown but very little about the eight years of her life after this time, yet the time in her life must have been significant. Because there is so little in records to pull from, there is a great deal of conjecture and the reader will need to decide if the perspective of the conjecture holds true for them. So, keep the family trees nearby, refer to them often and get in touch with your "willing suspension of disbelief". And even with that the two Margaret Beauforts, both daughters of second generation Beaufort brothers, in the family trees will add yet another element of confusion

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kiley-anne

    I am a huge fan of Phillipa's works. I don't think I have yet to come across a book of hers that I have not enjoyed. Some certainly more than others, but I always enjoy them. Of course that will always be subjective and a matter of perspective. So from a person who has not majored scholastically (as the author has) and from someone who simply adores reading anything from this period. I can not get enough of her works. I found this book very helpful in fact, to aid in cementing the connections be I am a huge fan of Phillipa's works. I don't think I have yet to come across a book of hers that I have not enjoyed. Some certainly more than others, but I always enjoy them. Of course that will always be subjective and a matter of perspective. So from a person who has not majored scholastically (as the author has) and from someone who simply adores reading anything from this period. I can not get enough of her works. I found this book very helpful in fact, to aid in cementing the connections between certain households and I found it greatly aided, in 'keeping straight' in my head who did what, where and why. When reading anything on this period the nature of the family's intricacies and developments is always so very transient with each other due to the nature of society in that era, that I wished I had read this book prior to reading any others. The way in which the book is written is by no means a 'novel' in my opinion is was far more like reading three essays on these women. It is one of the reasons why I say it would have been great to have read before the novels 'The Red Queen and The White Queen' I am now about to embark on the Tudor series of hers. Having already read so much about the Tudors I look forward to seeing them from her perspective. I would rate this book 3 1/2 stars.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Meg - A Bookish Affair

    Jacquetta, Elizabeth, and Margaret are three formidable ladies that Gregory covers in her Cousins' War trilogy. Jacquetta was known for her witchcraft and for giving birth to one of the Queen's of England, Elizabeth Woodville. Elizabeth Woodville becomes one of the founding mothers of the new royal family. Margaret Beaufort becomes the grandmother of Henry VIII. All of these women had a profound affect on the future of the English royal family. Gregory, Jones, and Baldwin each take on one of the Jacquetta, Elizabeth, and Margaret are three formidable ladies that Gregory covers in her Cousins' War trilogy. Jacquetta was known for her witchcraft and for giving birth to one of the Queen's of England, Elizabeth Woodville. Elizabeth Woodville becomes one of the founding mothers of the new royal family. Margaret Beaufort becomes the grandmother of Henry VIII. All of these women had a profound affect on the future of the English royal family. Gregory, Jones, and Baldwin each take on one of these ladies and fills in a little more of their background than you get in the trilogy. It was nice to learn a little bit more. It even made me appreciate Margaret Beaufort a little more (you'll remember I wasn't a big fan of her book, The Red Queen). This is a great introduction if you haven't read the trilogy yet or a great complement if you have read some or all of the trilogy. Okay, and for all you that fear non-fiction, this is a great springing off point to show you that non-fiction books don't have to be scary. This book is fact filled but still very accessible! Bottom line: History and Historical Fiction lovers alike will enjoy this book!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kimberlee

    This was a wonderful biography. If you are a fan of Philippa Gregory you will enjoy this. This is written purely on a historical levels to help weed through so much missing information on these three women, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort. The each have their own fictional novel written by Philippa Gregory. As I read about each history of these women individually it help me understand the fictional side of their tempestuous live living in a time when woman were th This was a wonderful biography. If you are a fan of Philippa Gregory you will enjoy this. This is written purely on a historical levels to help weed through so much missing information on these three women, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort. The each have their own fictional novel written by Philippa Gregory. As I read about each history of these women individually it help me understand the fictional side of their tempestuous live living in a time when woman were thought to be very inferior.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gaile

    A history of three women who lived through the War Of The Roses or the Cousin's War as it was known at that time. Jacquetta, Duchess Of Bedford Elizabeth Woodville, her daughter who became queen to Edward IV Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VI If you do know the history of this time, you should find this history enlightening. If you do know the history of this time, it is interesting to read it from a woman's viewpoint. This was a violent time in history and life was cheap.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nada

    Of course, well written and well read by Bianca Amato, the Audiobook reader. The book was very informative and a great textbook. This is perfect for those who want to understand a little bit of the background story of the three ladies of the cousins war. It's intriguing and engrossing. I loved the way it was written, I just wished I took down notes.

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