Posted in 15th Century Reviews Wars of the Roses

review: The Queen of Last Hopes

The Queen of Last Hopes by Susan Higginbotham She-wolf of France, but worse than wolves of France… Women are soft, mild, pitiful, and flexible; Thou stern, obdurate, flinty, rough, remorseless. ~Henry VI, part III Shakespeare is just one of the sources that has maligned Margaret of Anjou throughout history, and so we have a very interesting protagonist in The Queen of Last Hopes. Margaret, well-educated and prepared to do her duty, came from a happy home and was not aware of what awaited her in England. As a direct result of the Hundred Years War, she was met with sour faces and grumbling from her new subjects, and was never accepted into their hearts as their Queen. The people’s attitude coupled with Margaret’s fondness for…

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Posted in 15th Century Tudor Wars of the Roses

review: The White Queen

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory Imagine an Elizabeth Woodville who is not a vindictive harpy; a cold and calculating queen. Imagine a woman who set out to restore her deceased husband’s titles and lands to her sons and got caught up in a relationship with the king. She never set her eyes to the throne. She loved the king as a man and he won the crown and brought her into prominence. He made suggestions of appointments and marriages for her relatives. She was never over-reaching, except in a few instances where she was feeling vengeful for wrongs done to her family. She was a good and loving mother, a faithful wife and a dutiful queen. And if she ever started feeling a bit…

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Posted in 15th Century Reviews Wars of the Roses

review: The Red Queen

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory This highly anticipated second novel of the Wars of the Roses from Philippa Gregory, though perhaps not sensational, definitely does not disappoint in terms of intrigue, timelines and historical detail. Gregory’s Margaret Beaufort begins life having visions of Joan of Arc and so dedicates her life to what she believes is her calling. At first she feels her destiny lies in prayer and study, but after the birth of her son she focuses solely on his care and upbringing. Unfortunately (yet ultimately fortunately) she must hand him over to wardship all of his young life and so never forms a maternal bond with him. She does, however, manage to instill in him a sense of family pride–namely their Lancastrian…

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Posted in 15th Century Reviews Wars of the Roses

review: The Lady of the Rivers

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory The third installment of the Cousins’ War series, The Lady of the Rivers features a little known character at the forefront–Jacquetta of Luxembourg, mother of Edward IV’s queen, Elizabeth Woodville. Born the daughter of a French count and supposedly a descendant of the legendary goddess Melusina, she first married the Duke of Bedford, uncle to England’s King Henry VI. This marriage brought her wealth, power, education and an introduction to the dark arts. Though she is gifted with foresight, she doesn’t understand the vague visions that come to her and the few lessons her great-aunt taught her about fortunetelling and cursing remain nearly unused throughout the story. Instead, we follow the court of the childlike Henry VI…

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Posted in 15th Century Reviews Spanish Inquisition

review: The Queen’s Vow

The Queen’s Vow by C. W. Gortner Isabella of Castile is classically remembered as an indomitable queen and a byword for the Spanish Inquisition. Many readers have only a vague sense of her character from reading novels in which she was mentioned by name or played a small role. C. W. Gortner takes this enigma and breathes life into a complex and misunderstood woman, from her early childhood in royal poverty, through her volatile adolescence at her brother’s insidious court, and finally to her trials and triumphs as Queen of Castile. Isabella’s personality is fixed early on as a responsible and dutiful daughter, caring for her ailing mother and worrying over her younger brother, who is being set at the head of a rival faction…

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Posted in 15th Century Reviews Wars of the Roses

review: Figures in Silk by Vanora Bennett

Figures in Silk by Vanora Bennett Having read her previous novel, Portrait of an Unknown Woman, I was expecting a bit of a conspiracy theory with this novel. There was a slight twist to the Richard III/Henry Tudor/Elizabeth of York events that I have not seen before, but not quite as surprising as her other novel (though it does tie together in some ways). This review is very detailed and may have a little too much info for those who like to go into a story completely unaware. May be spoilers! Isabel, the protagonist, is sister to the infamous Jane Shore–whom I thought would be loathesome. Jane is actually one of the most likeable characters in the book and I really enjoyed the telling of…

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