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The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother Hardcover – September 13, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 123 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"[Gregory] again brings insight to English history, recreating the power struggle between two of the nation's most notable women in a tale fresh for modern readers. There's no question that she is the best at what she does." --Associated Press

“An engrossing introduction to three courageous matriarchs who shaped English history.” (Publishers Weekly)

“An engaging and interesting read . . . Fans of Gregory’s novels should enjoy this glimpse into both her creative process and her essays on the three women who served as inspiration for her ‘Wars of the Roses’ novels.” (The Post and Courier (Charleston))

“The publication of two books this season by Philippa Gregory gives us not only two more fascinating portraits of the English Wars of the Roses, it also opens a window onto the way the bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl applies her craft.” (Los Angeles Times)

About the Author

Philippa Gregory is the author of several bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. She studied history at the University of Sussex and received a Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh. She welcomes visitors to her website, PhilippaGregory.com.
David Baldwin taught history at the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham for many years, and is the author of four books detailing the Wars of the Roses, including the acclaimed Elizabeth Woodville, Mother of the Princes in the Tower.
Michael Jones wrote his dissertation on the Beaufort family and taught at the University of South West England, the University of Glasgow, and Winchester College. He is the author of six books, including The King’s Mother, which was shortlisted for the Whitfield Prize.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; First Edition edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451629540
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451629545
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #418,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Born in Kenya in 1954, Philippa Gregory moved to England with her family and was educated in Bristol and at the National Council for the Training of Journalists course in Cardiff. She worked as a senior reporter on the Portsmouth News, and as a journalist and producer for BBC Radio.

Philippa obtained a BA degree in History at the University of Sussex in Brighton and a PhD at Edinburgh University in 18th-century literature. Her first novel, Wideacre, was written as she completed her PhD and became an instant worldwide bestseller. On its publication, she became a full-time writer.

Wideacre was followed by a haunting sequel, The Favoured Child, and the delightful happy ending of the trilogy: Meridon. This novel was listed in Feminist Book Fortnight and for the Romantic Novel of the Year at the same time.

Her next book was The Wise Woman, a dazzling, disturbing novel of dark powers and desires set against the rich tapestry of the Reformation. Then came Fallen Skies, an evocative realistic story set after the First World War. Her novel A Respectable Trade took her back to the 18th century where her knowledge of the slave trade and her home town of Bristol explored the human cost of slavery. Gregory adapted her book for a highly acclaimed BBC television production which won the prize for drama from the Commission for Racial Equality and was shortlisted for a BAFTA for the screenplay.

Next came Earthly Joys and Virgin Earth, based on the true-life story of father and son both named John Tradescant working in the upheaval of the English Civil War. In these works Gregory pioneered the genre which has become her own: fictional biography, the true story of a real person brought to life with research and verve.

The jewel in the crown of this new style was undoubtedly The Other Boleyn Girl, a runaway bestseller which stormed the US market and then went worldwide telling the story of the little-known sister to Anne Boleyn. Now published globally, this classic historical novel won the Parker Pen Novel of the Year award 2002 and the Romantic Times fictional biography award. The Other Boleyn Girl was adapted for the BBC as a single television drama and by Sony as a major motion picture starring Scarlett Johansson as Mary Boleyn, Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn and Eric Bana as Henry VIII.

After adding five more novels to her Tudor Court series including The Constant Princess and The Queen's Fool, two of her best-loved works, Philippa moved back in time to write about the family that preceded the Tudors, the Plantagenets. Her bestselling six-book Cousins' War series tells the story of the bloody struggle for the throne in the Wars of the Roses from the perspective of the women behind the scenes. The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's Daughter were adapted by the BBC and Starz in 2013 as the hugely popular TV miniseries The White Queen.

Having completed The Cousins' War series with The King's Curse, Philippa has come full circle back to the Tudor court. Her latest novel is about Kateryn Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII: The Taming of the Queen. Her other work in progress is the young adult series The Order of Darkness, set in medieval Italy after the fall of Constantinople, feared at the time to be a sign of the end of the world.

A regular contributor to newspapers and magazines, with short stories, features and reviews, Philippa is also a frequent broadcaster, a regular contestant on Round Britain Quiz for BBC Radio 4 and the Tudor expert for Channel 4's Time Team. As well as her extensive array of historical novels she has written modern novels, children's books, a collection of short stories, and a non-fiction book with David Baldwin and Michael Jones: The Women of the Cousins' War.

She lives in the North of England with her family and in addition to interests that include riding, walking, skiing and gardening (an interest born from research into the Tradescant family for her novel Virgin Earth) she also runs a small charity building wells in school gardens in The Gambia.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a non-fiction book. I have seen reviews where people read it thinking it was a novel and were disappointed - of course they were! Real history is never as fleshed out as an historical novel especially they further back you go in time. That does not mean it has to be a trial to read.

This book was NOT a trial; it was very easy to read and very informative. Each author took one of the three woman that Ms. Gregory had profiled in her trilogy covering what most people know as The War of the Roses but what was known in its time as The Cousins' War. Ms. Gregory also provides a very extensive introduction as to the origins of the book and the difficulties in writing about people from the time period and about women in particular.

Ms. Gregory explains in that introduction that there is very little historical record left about the three women profiled; Jacquetta Woodville, Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort and yet the book is sold as a tome about them. In this I was a touch disappointed - I suppose I wanted to know more about them but there is only so much to be known. The three separate histories were all very well written and I came away with a much deeper comfort level of the whos and whats of The Cousins War. It is a truly confusing time in history given that many of the names are quite similar and families were fighting each other. This is a very interesting history of the time written from three distinct points of view.

Each author presents the events as they effect and surround his subject and while the facts do not change the players in each section do and that offers slight variations that make each woman a fascinating study. I cannot fault the authors that history did not leave more of a record and I want to know more.
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