Reviews for Blood Sisters : The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses

Book News Reviews
The War of the Roses, which re-directed British history in the 15th century, was known as the "Cousins War" in its day. UK biographer/journalist Gristwood (Elizabeth and Leicester) relates the largely unexamined roles of the key royal women in the Shakespeare drama-worthy events that led to the rise of the Tudor dynasty: Marguerite of Anjou, Cecily Neville, Ann Neville, Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret of Burgundy, Elizabeth of York, and Margaret Beaufort. Includes a glossary of names, period map of England, family tree, art illustrations, and notes on sources. Annotation ©2013 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Booklist Reviews 2013 February #2
Everyone knows about the Wars of the Roses; but what about the women behind that fight over the English throne? This question is asked and answered by Gristwood in this multiple biography of the Plantagenet women--wives, daughters, and mistresses--who played often pivotal behind-the-scenes roles in the "cousins' war." As the York and the Lancaster men prepare to square off, the lives, loves, loyalties, and fortunes of the major female family members are chronicled in juicy detail. Seven women (Marguerite of Anjou, Elizabeth of York, Margaret of Burgundy, Cecily Neville, Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort, and Anne Neville) make the final cut, as a delicately spun dynastic web is irreparably shredded by suspicion, greed, and ambition. Recommend this digestible collective biography to Philippa Gregory fans who want to delve deeper into the tangled Plantagenet-Tudor world. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 January #1
A labyrinthine journey through the York-Lancaster feud of 15th-century England from the point of view of its queens. Biographer Gristwood (The Girl in the Mirror, 2012, etc.) pursues no fewer than seven remarkable women of note between the wedding of Marguerite of Anjou to Henry VI in 1445 and the death of Elizabeth of York, queen to the re-established Henry Tudor, in 1503. The War of the Roses was more accurately known as the Cousins' War since, of course, everybody was related, descended from Edward III in some fashion, and convinced they had an equal shot at the crown. Gristwood allows several great matriarchs to take center stage between the vying for power by Lancastrians and Yorkists: Marguerite of Anjou, the strong, French-born queen who had to endure a humiliating return to France after her spineless husband was muscled out of the throne after the Yorkist victory at Towton; Cecily Neville, who would lose her husband but see her brilliant son prevail as Edward IV; and Margaret Beaufort, who jealously, devotedly schemed to dethrone Richard III in favor of her son, Henry Tudor. Moreover, there is the tremendously moving love story between Edward IV and commoner Elizabeth Woodville, the mother of the two subsequent young doomed princes in the tower. As Gristwood amply proves in this shrewd, rewarding study, alliances and ambitions involved women as much as men. The author also includes a glossary of select names and a "simplified family tree," both of which will be particularly helpful for American readers. A British historian nimbly makes sense and relevance out of the confoundingly entangled dynasties of the Yorks and Tudors. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 February #2

Most accounts of the Wars of the Roses have focused largely on the men involved. Here British journalist and biographer Gristwood (Arbella: England's Lost Queen) concentrates on the women tied to those men and their roles in the conflict during the second half of the 15th century. By exploring the lives of seven women--Marguerite of Anjou (wife of Henry VI), Cecily Neville (mother of Edward IV), Elizabeth Woodville (mother of the princes in the Tower), Anne Neville (wife of Richard III), Margaret of Burgundy (sister of Edward IV and Richard III), Elizabeth of York (Edward IV's daughter and wife to Henry VII), and Margaret Beaufort (mother to Henry VII)--Gristwood shows their strongly interconnected roles during the wars. Naturally, each woman's primary role was to marry and produce an heir, but Gristwood shows how they also exuded influence by directing public opinion, conspiring for power, and acting as regents in both official and unofficial capacities. VERDICT This title deftly navigates a period of shifting alliances in a clear, concise fashion. Highly recommended for any academic or casual reader interested in the Wars of the Roses. Fans of Alison Weir's historical fiction and nonfiction works, as well as fans of Philippa Gregory's historical fiction series, "The Cousin's War," are likely to enjoy this.--Rebekah Kati, Walden Univ. Lib., Morrisville, NC

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 January #2

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.)

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