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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong Women...
The War of the Roses shook the very foundations of England, when cousin armed against cousin, fought for power in a domestic drama on a grand scale. The ruling Plantagenets had two warring factions; the House of Lancaster and the House of York, both had equal and valid claims to the English throne as descendants of Edward III. Taking their symbols as red and white roses,...
Published 17 months ago by jaffareadstoo

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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's complicated
I began this book excited by Gristwood's very worthy concept to use old manuscripts to explore the roles of key women in the 15th Century wars between the Lancaster and York contenders to the English throne. To date, historians -- and literary storytellers like Shakespeare -- have described this important conflict strictly in terms of the male contenders. The roles of...
Published 16 months ago by jem


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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's complicated, March 3, 2013
This review is from: Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses (Hardcover)
I began this book excited by Gristwood's very worthy concept to use old manuscripts to explore the roles of key women in the 15th Century wars between the Lancaster and York contenders to the English throne. To date, historians -- and literary storytellers like Shakespeare -- have described this important conflict strictly in terms of the male contenders. The roles of wives, mothers and sisters were significant but little known.

Despite the book's genealogical chart, I had trouble being forced again and again to separate Marguerite (Margaret) of Anjou, Margaret Beufort, Margaret of Burgundy, Margaret Tudor (Queen of the Scots) in different generations in both royal lines. It became difficult to follow shifting alliances and understand the motives of various characters at specific points in time. Add the complications of brides taken to cement foreign alliances, and defeated contenders retreating to Scotland, Wales, Ireland, or France to regroup.

I ultimately bogged down in the details of this book. Gristwood is a meticulous researcher with a worthy goal, but you are most likely to appreciate this book if you already have a comprehensive understanding of the War of the Roses and the relationships between the key protagonists.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good book but...., March 26, 2013
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Nancy DeMaeyer (Jackson Hole, Wyoming) - See all my reviews
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All my criticisms of this book are due to terrible editing. Do NOT buy the Kindle edition of this book. There are no annotations for the footnotes. The reader has no ability to check on references or additional comments at the time of reading. The material was chock full of good information. I am so tempted to buy the print addition and read the book again. I am really mad that I spent good money on such a poor job of putting the ereader version on the market.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong Women..., February 26, 2013
This review is from: Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses (Hardcover)
The War of the Roses shook the very foundations of England, when cousin armed against cousin, fought for power in a domestic drama on a grand scale. The ruling Plantagenets had two warring factions; the House of Lancaster and the House of York, both had equal and valid claims to the English throne as descendants of Edward III. Taking their symbols as red and white roses, the royal houses of Lancaster and York not only divided their family, but also alienated England.

Generally overlooked by their more war worthy male counterparts, the women behind the men who fought in this protracted dispute, have a fascination all of their own. Undertaking a history of the women behind the Wars of the Roses is no mean feat, and yet in this factual account, Sarah Gristwood has done an admirable job in explaining the complexities of family politics, and shows how the cousins and their wives were interlinked both by birth and by dynastic marriage.

Easy to read in manageable sections, and with extraordinary insight into the time, Blood Sisters is a fascinating account of a troubled period in England's complex history. In explaining the precarious position of the Plantagenet families and more especially in the role the Plantagenet women played in this remarkable game of thrones, only adds credence to the myth that behind every strong man, is an equally strong and courageous woman.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Royal feuding in the 15th century, June 1, 2013
The first thing to say is that it definitely helps to have some knowledge of this period of British history, acquired elsewhere, before reading this book. In my case, I had a very basic knowledge (insufficient on its own) from my schooldays. I built on it when I looked into my ancestry, and that extra knowledge aroused my interest. As far as I know, none of the seven women that the author designates the main characters are among my ancestors (though my research is incomplete), but Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth Woodville and Cecily Neville are all children of my ancestors. Thus, I was fully informed about their family tree before I bought the book, but I still didn't know much about their lives and I knew nothing about what they thought of each other.

The wars of the roses (more accurately called the cousins' war) inevitably dominate the story, but it's not as simple as the red rose of Lancaster (descendants of John of Gaunt) versus the white rose of Yorkshire (descendants of his brothers, Edmund and Lionel) because of inter-marriages in subsequent generations. In those days, the population was much smaller and it was fairly common for people to marry their cousins or second cousins. The picture is further complicated by non-royals with allegiances to Lancaster or York didn't mind marrying royals from the other side. Presumably they thought the chance to marry royalty was worth changimg sides for.

In those days, there was the further complication that royal marriages were usually politically motivated, so apart from the problems in England, there were issues with some of the countries in mainland Europe too.

So the story is one of ever-changing loyalties and ever-changing fortunes. While I can see how all the twists and turns could be confusing, I found it all fascinating. I am sure that a lot of information has been lost forever, but there was plenty here to hold my interest. From other sources, I'd got the impression that the Yorkists really ought to have won in the end, but they lost because they fought among themselves after they thought they'd beaten the Lancastrians. This book reinforced that impression.

This is an excellent book, providing you have some knowledge of either the main characters or the cousins' war to start with.
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30 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars well it is a start, March 26, 2013
This review is from: Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses (Hardcover)
Gristwood published this somewhat breezy overview of the WoTR before the tests on the body of the Yorkist King Richard III were positively ascertained - had she waited it may well have changed a few of her chapters as his skeletal remains already provide a much needed correction to any number of myths. One wonders what it will take to get a similar result for his mother, sisters and sister-in-law, his wife, his natural daughter, even his grandmothers; and, if I may add, his pivotal three royal nephews, E5, Richard of York and Edward of Warwick.

Since she chose to go to publication anyway that advantage was lost, as with a good many other opportunities to be the correction in this period: she opens the boxes that hold so many pertinent discussion points, then slams it shut, possibly due to her own vulnerability in respect to research?

That leaves her primarily two types of readers for this historical overview or reassessment:

One is the avid reader of the period, those already well immersed in all things Yorkist and Tudor - and that could be readers of anything about the Plantagenets as a whole to specialists fascinated by much of what might appear as minutiae in WoTR. What they want is something new, as in information recently uncovered, newly translated, reconsidered from a point of view not heard before, a full reassessment from top to bottom. These readers are in effect veterans of the War themselves, each side feeling misrepresented, marginalized, betrayed by the overt bias of the scholars and lied to by everyone else.

The other group are the new recruits, if you will, to the conflict and they would have been better served by a clean, well organized approach, and as impartial or neutral as possible, and then put some real meat on the bones of both the men and women who too often are defined by the perpetual avalanche of romanticized Tudors in film and novel. (Yorkists have their own equally idealized examples in romance novels but they are a tiny droplet in the vast ocean by comparison).

If we consider both groups the "veterans" will be disappointed and the raw recruits will find a fairly even effort that is neither academic writing nor a poorly understood challenge. She means to do right by these women and to some degree I would say she does so. But as with so much in life, and never moreso that in the WoTR, the devil is in the details.

Gristwood herself has a Tudorian background and used Alison Weir (possibly the least neutral historian on the topic in print today) as her beta reader and likely research advisor. That familiarity of the traditional or standard issue view of both York and Tudor is apparent. To the lovers of all things Tudor nothing is amiss in their world, nothing to alter the BBC version of history; to the Yorkists, however, it is another lost opportunity.

I say this because of her bibliography - nicely fleshed out with everyone, well mostly everyone, we would hope to see in there - and irked by the notable omissions which are jarring, to say the least. To actually read, and absorb, and apply the vast (and I mean vast) amount of material that one finds in Ann Wroe's stunning work on Perkin Warbeck (the would-be and may well have been, Richard IV) alone is enough to give a nervous pause to a writer just wandering over the other side of this war front.

Then add in Christine Weightman's virtually perfect example of a late medieval biography, on Margaret duchess of Burgundy, the only enemy of H7 that he and his mother could not deter with torture and execution; this single biography is so comprehensive, so graciously written, so effortless despite its sizable reach, that I can't imagine Gristwood reading either Wroe or Weightman and then ignoring both in order to write Blood Sisters. Perhaps she had research assistants who did the reading for her? It is not a criticism, both Wroe and Weightman are seriously complex and deeply detailed accounts, not for the faint of heart by any means.

Another example would be the estimable work of Helen Maurer on the prickly details of the Princes, TWO of R3's THREE royal nephews in front of him for the throne, which is listed by Gristwood - but not Annette Carson's far more recent and penetrating questions on the same sources and rumors.

Anyone first peering into the abyss of the recent or modern historical accounts on the WoTR could be forgiven if they turn around and run away. As a basic example of the complexity involved, one need only consider that Margaret Beaufort (MB), mother to Henry, was a remarkably saavy political survivor, one might even say genius, along the lines of King Louis XI of France, the infamous "Universal Spider." If rumor is at the heart of so much that went on in the spring to fall of 1483 through 1485 then one can lay misinformation, planted rumors, etc, at her doorstep. The wonder of it all is that having been caught red-handed in open treason she was not executed. Her grandson Henry VIII would do so much more for so much less, lucky for her that Richard was a Yorkist and not a Tudor.

Next, what to make of adding a Audrey Williamson but not Louise Gill; or a bio of R3 by Sean Cunningham but not this same author's superior one on H7? Or Goldstones' recent and very fine bio of Joan of Arc, but not Josephine Wilkinson's equally fine bio on the youth of Richard when he was the duke of Gloucester? And why the seminal bio of MB by Jones and Underwood but not Carole Rawcliffe's equally encyclopedic work on the entire Stafford family, Lancastrians all, the famous dukes of Buckingham, a family which will provide much needed succour to the 13 or 14 yr old MB after the death of Edmund Tudor - AND then align herself in treason with the 2nd duke, the vivaciously vacuous Henry 2nd D of Buckingham? And what to make of no Rosemary Horrox and her diligent effort to make sense of patronage in the era, particularly helpful with whom RdG was allied to - and whom he wasn't. This omission is simply inexplicable.

All of these omissions the new recruits will miss, being blissfully unaware that counter information and interpretation is out there, but it will likely fry the minds of the veterans of this conflict!

And yet it leads to so many mis-statements or perhaps just keeping the status quo in sway? For example, in the prologue (p. xx) she cites the great expense H7 spent on the funeral of Elizabeth of York, his very popular wife as if this was a pattern of affection and generosity from him - not so, E of Y was kept on such a penurious income that she would routinely repair her own gowns and need to borrow money from her younger sisters! In comparison, MB, her mother-in-law, already a wealthy heiress in the extreme, saw her financial health blossom beyond description under H7. Had Gristwood deeply read Jones & Underwood, Wroe, et al she would never have assumed that a lavish funeral - purely for public consumption - was actually part of the married existence of E of Y!

A similar mis-read is about Anne Neville, the wife of RdG/R3, again in the Prologue, (p. xxi) in which "poor Anne Neville" had "been too shadowy a figure to have quarreled with her mother-in-law." This is almost incomprehensible, the author must be thinking of another woman. Gristwood seems to forget that this mother-in-law was herself a NEVILLE, Anne's father was Cecily's own nephew, the infamous Kingmaker, who both supported her husband Richard's bid to become king, having been named heir to H6, AND her son's claim, the young Edward of March - and if that isn't enough, Cecily is also grandmother to Anne's son, as well as Anne's sister's children (Margaret and Edward of Warwick) BY Cecily's other son, George! It is not as if she had no natural sympathies toward her own Neville kin, especially a young woman like Anne, whose role as a female pawn landed her in a politically opportunistic marriage with - of all people - Prince Edward, son of H6 and Margaret of Anjou!

Even if one dismisses that H6 and his wife had long been adversaries against her husband, Cecily would have understood that this Neville, Anne, would at least become Queen, a role she herself considered her own by right. It is worth remembering that Cecily was the youngest of the children born to Joan Beaufort, daughter to John of Gaunt, albeit Joan like her brothers were born in adultery and were considered illegitimate until adulthood when Gaunt curiously managed to get them legitimated by his nephew, R2. That makes Edward III Cecily's own grandfather. And then she is married to a man whose Mortimer claims to the throne were in direct opposition to what Gaunt desired for his own children!

Cecily Neville, more than any other woman of her century, led a life of almost mind numbing tumult, with the highest of expectations on blood alone, along with the most stunning personal losses also on blood alone. THIS is the woman of the Cousins War who most deserves and requires a biography as comprehensive as a Wroe and as elegantly written and researched as Weightman!

Another misreading, (yet a long held tradition of omission by Tudor historians so she is simply following suit) is found on p. xxv, in regard to the pompous claims that the Tudors alone brought the Renaissance to England, as if it had been a wasteland of Neanderthal limitations, the very comment that the Tudors brought "not only a great flowering of art and literature, adventures in trade and exploration, and the establishment of the Protestant religion in the country, but also a new sense of national identity" is enough to make one want to run out of the room screaming.

Where to start?! The price of "the establishment of Protestantism" is a savage one - and so often glossed over as to never even be mentioned! It was generated not by henry's own deeply ethical and spiritually based moral ruminations but the need to get rid of an infertile old wife he no longer wanted for a younger one already pregnant with his hoped for MALE heir. Into this hideous debacle he extended his grasp to the ruination of the great cathedrals, destruction of the arts of this medieval period, the deaths of thousands, torture and execution of those who dared to question his right to become not only the head of the government but religion as well. One only needs to look at a case like Anne Askew to get some idea of what a treacherous, grotesque travesty that the word "establishment" actually carries with it.

On better footing Gristwood does make the correct analogy between R3's intentions to marry the Infanta Joana (p. 219) as it would "reunify the splintered Plantagenet family." Contrary to accepted tradition the idea that no one would have been interested in marrying R3 is the equally pernicious idea that he had had his wife, Anne Neville, poisoned in order to get rid of her.

Curious indeed, possibly this is a situation where historians shift the real reason for H8's decision to divorce Queen Katherine of Aragon onto R3, although Anne was about 28 at her death, hardly too old to bear more children. What does seem to have been an issue is her health, for like her sister Isabel, neither would live to see 30 and like MB may well have had a problematic childbirth for her son, Edward, and one that precluded either the ability to conceive again or keep a pregnancy long enough for it to even be known.

When Gristwood tackles the issue of Tudor's exile in France as he awaited the plans for landing in England (pps 223-231) she would have been better served if she had read Annette Carson in particular, or Sean Cunningham's H7 overall. One of the most glaring omissions is the reality that 28 yr old Henry Tudor had virtually no hand in either the strategy to make himself king (ie. the planning, the arming, the political machinations, the agents employed, rumors spread, claims made) nor the actual fighting, the battle, much less the ability to persuade William Stanley to betray R3 just as that king was yards from cutting Tudor down at Bosworth.

He won a crown as a bystander, the strategy was from MB, Bray, Morton, et al, the funds and protection from the French government led by Anne de Beaujeu, the army that he had were foreign mercenaries and disaffected Lancastrians. He had no role from planning to fighting, other than as acting the prerequisite front MALE claimant.

The French were all too willing, led by Anne de Beaujeu, the protector of her younger brother, King Charles VIII (Gristwood is unaware of the 13 yr old Charles or the French of this period; see p. 225) as she herself had been under critical assault as protector from the encroachments of a parallel royal line, Louis of Bourbon, (eventually Louis XII), which btw, began as early as 1483 into 1484. A secure R3, newly married to their enemy, the Spanish, was not in her best interest, a puppet put on the English throne was.

IT was Anne de Beaujeu, thru the agency of the "government," who put it out there that Henry Tudor was the son of H6! Not for English consumption, of course, they would have known better - but for the army of foreign mercenaries who were in fact the "English" army brought by Henry. And his saviour at Bosworth, William Stanley, (brother to Thomas and as such brother-in-law to Tudor's own mother, MB, who had made a political alliance with Thomas in marriage) no doubt expected great rewards for the making of a king. He did not get them. And never to be trusted, as he did after all betray an anointed king; H7 kept him in check, until he had an opportunity to have him executed.

Gristwood is correct in relating R3's citation of Tudor's heritage being a double bastardy (Henry 6's mother, the young dowager Queen Katherine of Valois, would have required royal permission to remarry, certainly something she never even attempted as H6 did not know about Owen Tudor or his surviving step-brothers until after her death). And if I had been advising Gristwood I would have told her to put the entire Ballad of Lady Bessy in a footnote, especially as she ignores so much material that we do actually know about how Tudor got the throne.

Gristwood also should get kudo's for actually reporting Queen Isabella's horror at the diplomatic envoy's news that the decrepit widower H7 was thinking of marrying her daughter, the young Katherine of Aragon, AND his dead son's wife of 6 months, also saving himself a bundle in the process (p. 306). Just admitting that this bitter old miser cast glances at the young Katherine should do much to strip away the idea that historians can be trusted where any Tudor is concerned.

Where I could quibble with her - as she wraps up her breezy overview - is that she doesn't push her advantage, for example, when she notes that MB was anything but a normal retiring lady of religious convictions (p. 308) she could have made an important NEW interpretation of this highly complex power house, who is always shown only in her old age, veiled and severe, as if living a "contemplative" life.

As MB was younger than Cecily Neville by some 28 years it is easier to understand MB's decision to act the recluse, retired from the world, as a great PR point taken from Cecily, who actually did step away from politics and other material concerns. MB never did, and after a life of intrigue, deception, humiliation, restoration, stunning wealth, enormous prestige as the woman who ran the court the thought that she could just step away and leave governing to some court official is ludicrous. Wave after wave of trouble beset Henry from the moment he survived Bosworth - from his own penchant for heaping crippling taxes on the populace to hordes of Yorkists still on the horizon (they were a prolific bunch, compared to the relative infertility of the Lancastrians) to the actual clamaints attempting to chase him off the throne to the loss of his own heir, the magical Prince Arthur, followed quickly by that of his wife, to the judicious murders of Edward of Warwick (and very likely Tyrell, Stanley etc), was there ever a quiet, secure moment for MB to even contemplate a retirement?

I applaud Gristwood for trying to open many of the right boxes, as if to air out very old and lame myths (ie. Tudor status quo) but when she then slams them shut I suspect she felt inadequate to the task - and the required research would make anyone pale - or, being a cynic, I could say she had no desire to anger the monumental Tudor biases in academia, entertainment and among the professional biographer class.

By all means read Gristwood, she provides the "flashcards" to then reading Wroe, Carson, Weightman, Horrox, Ashdown-Hill, Rawcliffe, Jones & Underwood, Potter, Hncock, Wilkinson, Maurer, et al.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars what? no genealogy??, May 9, 2013
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The Wars of the Roses are a particular obsession of mine, and over the decades I have consumed considerable information about this turbulent time in British history.
Everything I read provides more pieces of knowledge absent from other works, and so does "Blood Sisters"--one wonders why it took so long for someone to realize this angle was missing. Nonetheless, this multigenerational event absolutely REQUIRES a genealogy as the family/generational relationships are so complicated. As I was reading my Kindle edition, I kept longing for relief at the end, when I would find it at last. No Such Luck. I consider this a HUGE lapse on the part of author and publisher--no excuse! I am always fascinated by the tales of the Nevilles, the Yorks, the Lancastrians, but this time I had to patch my way through my elderly edition of Shakespeare and the venerable "Katherine," by Anya Seton.
I can only recommend this [otherwise excellent] book if you have Wikepedia or Burke's Peerage [joke] at your side
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing New Here, March 4, 2013
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J. Perry (Eugene, OR USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses (Hardcover)
The concept of Blood Sisters is great, but it does have a downside: There is still not enough evidence to make conclusive statements regarding said women of the Wars of the Roses.

Since reading Sharon Kay Penman's novel, The Sunne in Splendour, I've basically been converted into a Yorkist, so one thing that is necessary in this particular kind of biography, where one is presenting key members of BOTH sides, is the author's neutrality. Unfortunately, the requisite neutrality also makes this work seem a little aimless at times. Perhaps it wouldn't be so, if more was known about the subjects themselves. This time period is very shady due to all kinds of propaganda (and not just Tudor propaganda, I might add). That being said, one thing that confused me was Gristwood's use of verses from the related Shakespeare king plays and her frequent references to Shakespeare's representation of some of these characters. I felt like she was trying to address, even debate, some of his portrayals and yet I didn't see the relevance; after all, in the text and in the synopsis, I was led to believe this was a collective biography of the WOMEN behind the men, not a comparison over how any of them (male or female) lived up to or utterly failed Shakespeare's creations.

For those unfamiliar with these women, the names WILL get confusing. Gristwood does her best to remind the reader which Margaret she is talking about; however, she does it at the risk of further bogging down the narrative. From perusing their Wikipedia pages, I'm familiar with these women's names and titles, their spouses, their parentage, their children, and yet I found myself getting quite overwhelmed anyway. The fact that I already knew quite a bit of the material strictly because I studied up on Wikipedia also says something about the sad lack of actual known facts. Wikipedia is by no means a reliable or even truthful source of information. But it's useful for quick overviews of family trees and basic, undisputed facts concerning historical figures. Gristwood paints a portrait with her facts, yes, but they are the same facts much more entertainingly presented in Sharon Kay Penman's novel. A novel, for crying out loud!

In its favor, Gristwood certainly did her research; however, again, because there is much less known about these women than their men, there's only so much research she can provide, and it's certainly not new research, which I was hoping for. She does include a note expressing her hopes that the recent discovery of Richard III's remains (as well as the television adaptation of Phillipa Gregory's God-awful Plantagenet series) will spark a revival of interest in this time period. Over all, Blood Sisters is a good introduction to those unfamiliar with the Wars of the Roses, and especially with its women. But I say read at your own risk. Or wait for paperback. (I bought it on Kindle for the cheaper price and regret even that decision).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three stars means it's "okay.", May 14, 2013
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This review is from: Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses (Hardcover)
This book offers some interesting insights about the women involved in the Wars of the Roses. I cannot say, though, that it's a very interesting or, indeed, exciting read. However, if the subject is an intriguing one to you, you should have a copy in your library.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Villains, victors, or victims?, April 25, 2013
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This review is from: Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses (Hardcover)
The concept of this book is interesting....a study of several women who played an integral part of the Wars of the Roses. In some ways it follows the concept of The Kingmaker's Sisters which was an attempt to provide more information about the sisters of the Earl of Warwick and who were all married to men who were active participants in the murder and mayhem of those years. Gristwood, however, has an advantage over Baldwin since there are far more documents related to the women she discusses. These women also were more important and in three or four cases were as equally active as the men in fighting for their cause.

Gristwood has certainly done her research and her book is replete with information. She is fortunate in the fact that several excellent biographies have been written about Margaret of Anjou, Margaret Beaufort, and Elizabeth Woodville. I enjoyed reading the book but can understand why some readers might get confused with the plethora of Margarets and Elizabeths. (I learned to give them nicknames some time ago: Margaret the Virago (of Anjou), Margaret the Loyal (of Burgundy), Elizabeth of York the Sacrificial Lamb, and Margaret Beaufort the Cobra....all of which shows my bias.) Despite its completeness, the book is not the most appropriate book for someone just beginning to read about the Wars, and a more general summary might be the best introduction.

I also think that Gristwood is a tad too sympathetic to Margaret of Anjou and to Margaret Beaufort and that may reflect an Alison Weir influence. Margaret of Anjou was certainly courageous and valiant in fighting for her husband and son but did not show much intelligence in many of her actions. As for Margaret Beaufort, Gristwood appears to give her the benefit of the doubt as to whether or not she was involved in Buckingham's Rebellion or was actively engaged in manipulating events for her son so early. Why should there be any doubts? She showed herself to be highly focused on her goal and opportunistic in "catching the nearest way". Perhaps the Tudors really should be called the Beaufort dynasty because of her efforts; her son, grandson, and great granddaughters certainly took after her in many ways. Cecily Woodville is a fascinating character and deserved more attention. And as for Anne Neville, she comes across as a cipher. It is true that we know very little about what she was like but in this interpretation she seems to be the cowed victim of her father, her mother-in-law, her brother-in-law, and finally her last husband, Richard III. Reading this book made me an active participant because I found myself either shaking my head in disagreement or nodding in agreement with a number of Gristwood's interpretations. That made it highly enjoyable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, interesting history, January 4, 2014
I've only recently become interested in the time of the Cousin's War, and mainly because of Philippa Gregory's latest novel series. So when I came across this book dealing with the women of the time, I knew I wanted to give it a read.

Not a lot can be known for certain about the women discussed in this book. The records are spotty and not always reliable to begin with, but women weren't usually considered important enough to have much written about them. It truly is a shame, because it seems as though these women played a huge part in getting England through this crazy time.

Each of the women has an interesting story, but some played a greater part than others. Margaret Beaufort worked nearly her entire life to get to her final position of mother of a king. Elizabeth Woodville came up from a low position to become queen. Her daughter saw how easily fortunes could change, but still made it through it all to become one half of the marriage that united a country divided.

Sometimes, books such as this one can become a little boring and textbook-like. There were parts of the book I glazed over, mostly because the material being discussed wasn't all too interesting, like how much money was spent on what things, but overall the book kept me interested enough that I really took my time to read this. I wanted to gain a bit of knowledge from this book that I wouldn't have otherwise found.

If you're interested in the history of the Cousin's War and want to learn more about it, this is definitely a good book to pick up.
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Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses
Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood (Hardcover - February 26, 2013)
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