The Wars of the Roses, which 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. But as acclaimed historian Sarah Gristwood reveals, while the events of this turbulent time are usually described in terms of the men who fought and died seeking the throne, a handful of powerful women would prove just as decisive as their kinfolks' clashing armies. A richly drawn, absorbing epic, Blood Sisters reveals how women helped to end the Wars of the Roses, paving the way for the Tudor age—and the creation of modern England.
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Biographer and journalist Sarah Gristwood attended Oxford University and has been a regular contributor to the London Times, Telegraph, Guardian, and Independent. She is the author of seven previous books, including the best-selling Arbella: England's Lost Queen and Elizabeth and Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics.Review:
The New Yorker
The Wars of the Roses are often remembered for the men who seized thrones and led battles, but in this lively history the women take the reins. Arguing persuasively for the existence of a female network,’ Gristwood details the paths of seven royal women who transcended their roles as diplomatic pawns and heir producers.”
Alison Weir, BBC History Magazine
Once again, Sarah Gristwood proves that she is at the top of her field with Blood Sisters . In this gem of a book, she effortlessly interweaves the dramatic, often tragic, lives of seven royal women . In telling their stories in this original way, and focusing on their diverse roles in the conflict between Lancaster and York, Gristwood reveals how they influenced a male-dominated world. Her text is further enlivened by incisive analysis, exquisite detail and an elegant and witty style . It’s the book that I wish I had written.”
The Spectator (London)
Sarah Gristwood’s sensitive approach marks out Blood Sisters as much more than the narrative of an age . It is an exploration of what it meant to be a medieval queen . In describing what these noble women had in common, Gristwood is able to paint a compelling portrait of this bloody age, complete with the heartbreak and triumphs that went with it .. Medieval queens were far from being mere pawns in the game of thrones.”
Sunday Times (London)
Most of the leading players in the Wars of the Roses have traditionally been thought to be the men. Historian Sarah Gristwood stands this on its head. She examines seven women, whose lives were bound together across the best part of a century, and tries to see the wars from their points of view . Gristwood successfully evokes the lives of all these women, and in doing so brings a new and welcome perspective on the Wars of the Roses.”
While most historians focus on the men of the Plantagenet dynasty who tore their families and nation apart during the Wars of the Roses, Gristwood weaves a dizzying array of Yorkists and Lancastrians into an engaging and coherent history by focusing on seven women...who played crucial roles in the bloody feuds known as the cousins’ war.’”
[Gristwood’s] is a revolutionary approach. For too long, history has been the purview of men, of kings and their battles, wars, conquests, murders and thirst for power.... Gristwood’s perspective and lively writing are refreshing.... Certainly there have been individual biographies of each of these seven powerful women but by tracing the connections among them, Gristwood digs into motives and aspirations of royals too long overlooked.... Through them, she gives us an unconventional history of the wars between relations, arguing that their actions mattered as much as battles, and certainly played a significant role in ending the war and establishing the peace.”
Entertaining and vividly drawn . This is the true story of the most important women of the period, their travails and suffering; but also of the links between them, their friendships and ambitions, their cooperation, their courage and pragmatism. It is a different way of looking at this complex period, and Gristwood weaves the story with considerable skill. The battles and bloodshed that led to the loss of so many of the old nobility of England form a backdrop to the narrative, but the real emphasis is on half-a-dozen women whose extraordinary experiences of triumph and disaster, often in a bewilderingly short period of time, brought them to the edge of despair but did not, in the end, lessen their commitment to their families. They provided continuity as the world fell apart around them . Gristwood is to be congratulated for her highly readable account of their lives”
Asbury Park Press
Gristwood crafts a compelling narrative about these fascinating women, not by straying from the truth, but by filling in details and by deducing plausible motives from what little is known. In her pages, these Annes, Elizabeths and Margarets live and breathe and plot once more.”
Gristwood has written a compelling narrative of what went on behind the scenes and away from the battlefields . [Blood Sisters] 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.”
[Blood Sisters] 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.”
"As Gristwood amply proves in this shrewd, rewarding study, alliances and ambitions involved women as much as men . [Gristwood] nimbly makes sense and relevance out of the confoundingly entangled dynasties of the Yorks and Tudors."
Open Letters Monthly
[A] nimble, engaging new book.... [Gristwood’s] a lively enthusiastic recounter of the violent turnovers of the age.”
[Blood Sisters] brings new perspective to a history largely dominated by males.... Gristwood leads the reader though the intricacies of political managing and palace intrigue, where enemies and friends changed sides, often without notice, and frequently to the detriment of their former allies.”
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Book Description HarperPress, 2012. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0007309295
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, 2012. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0007309295