Thursday, 3 January 2013

Blood Sisters: The Women Who Won the War of the Roses - Sarah Gristwood

After all the lightness of the past two books, I was in the mood for something a bit more serious and I was very intrigued by this nonfiction book exploring the events of the War of the Roses from the point of view of the women involved. To be perfectly honest, much of my knowledge of English history comes from literature, Shakespeare in particular. We all know that while Shakespeare got the gist of the story, he definitely took heavy dramatic license and I was interested to read the story from someone who would be telling me the facts, not just the fun bits.

Blood Sisters begins with Henry VI marrying Marguerite of Anjou. Marguerite comes over from France as a young girl, not quite knowing what's in store for her. Gristwood manages to weave together a bunch of different women who will all become important as the story moves forward, telling us what a different woman is doing at times, if she's just being born or being betrothed to someone she won't end up marrying. 

The War of the Roses is a very interesting time in English history. The crown keeps going back and forth between different people, different kings fighting cousins and brothers for control. Although I knew the basics of the conflict, I was happy to find most of the events spelled out to me in normal English as I was better able to follow the actions and beliefs of the people involved.

Following it from the women's point of view, as well, adds to the story as you get more about the children and the different things the people expected out of them. Marguerite tried to be strong and was called unfeminine. Elizabeth would do the same thing a hundred and fifty years later and be praised for it. 

You really got a feeling for each of the women, how they reacted and felt about different actions and people. You could guess how each woman would act in different situations and what was important to them. Although this is all the stuff of history, it really came to life with Gristwood's words and she was very good about trying to give all sides of a situation (while subtly pushing her own.)

The only real issue I had with the book was how it was formatted. I read it electronically and while there was nothing wrong with that, I was surprised to find a whole section of notes past the acknowledgements that would have been very helpful to know about while I was actually reading the book. Although they are, of course, in the table of contents, they are not appropriately referenced in the text that it is hard to find what they are referring to. Also, there are footnotes already in the text itself that seem about the same importance as what you find in the appendix. I wish that had been formatted a bit better but that is a minor annoyance, I suppose.

I really enjoyed this book and think it is good reading for anyone who wants to know more about this interesting period of English history. Highly recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment