Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: "Blood Sisters: The Women who Who Won the Wars of the Roses" by Sarah Gristwood

From Goodreads:  ...In this completely original book, acclaimed author Sarah Gristwood sheds light on a neglected dimension of English history: the impact of Tudor women on the Wars of the Roses. She examines Cecily Neville, the wife of Richard Duke of York, who was deprived of being queen when her husband died at the Battle of Wakefield; Elizabeth Woodville, a widow with several children who married Edward IV in secret and was crowned queen consort; Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, whose ambitions centred on her son and whose persuasions are likely to have lead her husband Lord Stanley, previously allied with the Yorkists, to play his part in Henry's victory.

Until now, the lives of these women have remained little known to the general public. Sarah Gristwood tells their stories in detail for the first time. Captivating and original, this is historical writing of the most important kind.

My Thoughts:  I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  I think the era of the Wars of the Roses is so incredibly fascinating so when I saw a book that focused on the women players, I jumped at the chance to read it.   

I loved the first half of this book.  It focused on all the drama between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians and focused heavily on Elizabeth Woodville, Cecily Neville and Marguerite of Anjou.  All three were incredibly strong minded women who lived such fascinating lives.  I also feel like all three women lived very tragic lives.  Even when things were going their way, life was quick to throw a horrible curve ball at them.  All of them lost their husbands and some of their children and yet were forced to stay strong for those left around them.

This book was obviously extremely well-researched.  There was so much detail about each woman and their every day lives.  Ms. Gristwood even discussed some of their expenditures:  it was really neat to be able to see the kinds of things these women purchased.  Ms. Gristwood also did a good job of keeping the story well-ordered and organized.  I have read books on the Wars of the Roses before where I couldn't keep the people or events straight because there was so much going on and everything was jumbled together.  That was not the case with this book.  I thought that for a work of non-fiction, this was a pretty easy read and at times it felt like I was reading a novel.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was how much the story slowed down in the second half.  Once the story got to Henry VII's reign, things got kind of boring.  I think Elizabeth of York lived a complicated life but without all of the drama of the Wars of the Roses, the story wasn't so exciting any more.  It didn't ruin the book for me, it just made it take me a lot longer to finish.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  It is definitely a great read for anyone who is interested in this period of history.  3 stars.

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