I love a good nonfiction.
I love facts. Real life. The foundation of our everything.
I also love the Plantagenet family and Philippa Gregory. In short, I’ve been a very happy Tarina reading this book.
The Women of The Cousins War is a collection of essays written by our three authors about Jacquetta of Luxemburg, Duchess of Bedford, Elizabeth Woodville, Queen of England, and Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, and My Lady the Kings Mother.
These women are featured in Philippa Gregorys fiction series The Cousins War chronicling The War of The Roses, or as it was known at the time The Cousins War. Philippa Gregory provides an amazing introduction which talks about the importance of history, the differences between historical fiction and historical fantasy (she get’s hella salty about this*), and of course women in history. She explains that because women in the past had never had any ability to play on the main stage their stories have been all but lost to us, that does not mean, however, that these women didn’t impact events around them. The idea that women did nothing, simply because there is no record of what they were doing, is laughable. You can not, and should not, simply write out half of the worlds population and say “Well they just didn’t do anything”.
“But there is another sense in which women were barred from history. They were excluded as the producers of history, as writers. They failed to become historians. When we read “well-behaved women don’t make history” we must understand that not only were women barred from acting on events, denied the recognition they deserved, and explained away; they were also barred from recording events. Women are not in the record, and they were not allowed to write the record. In this dual sense, history has always been made by men.”
It is a great read and she really delves into the reasons behind these issues, things set so deep in our histories that people would never have seen them as problems.
Beyond that come three fantastic and well researched essays about each of the women in turn. Now these women were right in the very thick of The Cousins War (many times orchestrating events behind the scenes) so the essays are more than just biographies but do include, and heavily so, events taking place in the political theatre at the time. For Jacquetta almost no records exist of her actual life so Philippa must fill in many gaps with educated guesses and assumptions (she does a wonderful job and always let’s the reader know what is known and what is simply assumed because of lack of evidence)
“There are differences between historians and novelists, of course. But perhaps fewer differences than readers think. Historians, like novelists, have to make things up – make up their view of the character, theorize about the character, imagine the characters inner life- just as novelists do.”
but in all she weaves a complete and in depth look into this woman who founded the line of monarchs who would change the world forever. The other authors and essays are equally as in depth (a much easier task for them i would imagine) and entertaining. i loved every moment of this book.
Book 2 of 36: The Women of the Cousins War by Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin, and Micheal Jones
- 1- Don’t Read
- 2- It’s Good
- 3- Read
- 4- Highly Recommend
- 5- Must Read
I want to give this a 5 out of 5 for the introduction and because I believe all history should be read BUT it is, at the end of the day, a nonfiction history and that simply isn’t up everyones alley. If you are a history lover, fan of Philippa Gregory, fan of politics, warfare, drama, lover of myth and legend please read this book. It is worth it.
* “A nonsensical novelist will make up whatever he likes- but I am not concerned here with what should really be called historical fantasy- when an imagined historical period offers little more than the costume and the excuse for a story, a creation more like a pantomime than a realistic drama.”