Book Review: Blood Sisters by Sarah Gristwood

Release Date: Feb 26th 2013

To contemporaries, the Wars of the Roses were known collectively as a “cousins’ war.” The series of dynastic conflicts that tore apart the ruling Plantagenet family in fifteenth-century England was truly a domestic drama, as fraught and intimate as any family feud before or since.

As acclaimed historian Sarah Gristwood reveals in Blood Sisters, while the events of this turbulent time are usually described in terms of the male leads who fought and died seeking the throne, a handful of powerful women would prove just as decisive as their kinfolks’ clashing armies. These mothers, wives, and daughters were locked in a web of loyalty and betrayal that would ultimately change the course of English history. In a captivating, multigenerational narrative, Gristwood traces the rise and rule of the seven most critical women in the wars: from Marguerite of Anjou, wife of the Lancastrian Henry VI, who steered the kingdom in her insane husband’s stead; to Cecily Neville, matriarch of the rival Yorkist clan, whose son Edward IV murdered his own brother to maintain power; to Margaret Beaufort, who gave up her own claim to the throne in favor of her son, a man who would become the first of a new line of Tudor kings.

A richly drawn, absorbing epic, Blood Sisters is a tale of hopeful births alongside bloody deaths, of romance as well as brutal pragmatism. It is a story of how women, and the power that women could wield, helped to end the Wars of the Roses, paving the way for the Tudor age—and the creation of modern England.

Another one of my War of the Roses read I enjoyed Blood Sisters because it dealt with the women of the family. Most historians focus on the obvious part of the War of the Roses the men of the York and Lancaster families. However women like Marguerite of Anjou, Margaret of Burgundy and Margaret Beaufort were strong and powerful women who rose Armies!

You can tell that this book has been well researched and the history is all correct, while bringing to mind the pomp and pageants of the time period. I enjoy when I can see ceremonies that I have studied put to page and explained well. Sarah Gristwood really has created something that those new to the time period, or who are familiar with it like me will enjoy.

Of course if you are looking for a fictionalized account of the seven women covered in this book Blood Sisters is not the book for you. Sarah Gristwood has created a historical non fiction piece of work that is both educational and enjoyable. I know a lot of people who enjoy fictions don’t want to read the non fiction because they think it will be boring, but Blood Sisters is not it really draws you in. You get a lot of great information but it is presented in a way that is easy to understand and almost could be a non fiction. I would recommend this one to history fans and those who are just getting into it alike. You will enjoy it and hopefully have a better understanding of the women behind the War of the Roses.

My Gemstone Rating:


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