Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses

Sarah Gristwood. Basic, $28.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-46501-831-4
Gristwood, a British journalist and biographer, provides a fresh take on the Wars of the Roses, a 30-year tug-of-war between two feuding dynasties, the houses of Lancaster and York, over the crown of England. The conflict officially ended with the accession of Henry VII in 1485, and it’s a story that has been hashed and rehashed by historians for centuries. But while most accounts focus upon battles fought and constantly shifting alliances between kings and noblemen, Gristwood (Arabella: England’s Lost Queen) adds another layer to the story: the essential roles played by the chief combatants’ mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives. Focusing on seven key women, from Marguerite of Anjou, Henry VI’s queen (who fought much more mightily than he to hold onto the throne), to Elizabeth of York, whose marriage to Henry VII in 1486 united the two houses, Gristwood has written a compelling narrative of what went on behind the scenes and away from the battlefields. Despite occasional confusion arising from the plethora of characters with common names, this is an engaging, well written, and thoroughly-researched page turner that should delight academics as much as fans of Philippa Gregory’s historical novels about several of the same notable women. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/14/2013
Release date: 02/01/2013
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