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Blood Sisters: The Women Behind The War Of The Roses

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  795 ratings  ·  119 reviews
From best-selling historian, Sarah Gristwood comes the true story behind Philippa Gregory’s recent novels – the women who gave birth to the Tudor dynasty. It is a fiery history of Queens, the perils of power and of how the Wars of the Roses were ended – not by knights in battle, but the sinewy political skills of women.

The events of the Wars of the Roses are usually descri
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Published September 13th 2012
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Caroline
When you watched "The White Queen", did you think:

"Hmm, it seems kind of weird that a devout Christian woman would be practicing witchcraft. It also seems weird that this witchcraft defines several historical events."

"Wow, Elizabeth Woodville's French manicure is better than mine!"

"Is that a zipper????"

If so, you were in good company. Luckily, Sarah Gristwood has released "Blood Sisters", a wonderful book that combats all things Gregory and should be required reading if you're interested in the
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Orsolya
Although the bickering between the Houses of York and Lancaster (now known as the Wars of the Roses) was heavily a “man’s world”; there were strong female players lurking in the shadows and controlling some strings. Sarah Gristwood explores the links between Margaret of Anjou, Cecily Neville, Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York, Anne Neville, and Margaret of Burgundy (Margaret of York) in “Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses”.

“Blood Sisters” is not merely
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Chris
Read ARC via netgalley.



I’m not sure when the current popular fascination with the Tudors began. Was it simply the Showtime series with the glorious Jonathan Rhys-Myers? Or was it Phillippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl? I’m not sure. But it does seem like this book, at least in its release, is an answer to Gregory’s fiction surrounding the Tudor and Pre-Tudor women.
Blood Sisters takes an in-depth look at the royal women who were involved in the Cousin’s War (aka The War of the Roses), a dif
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Sarahu
‘Blood Sisters’ by author Sarah Gristwood aims to tell readers the true story of the Cousin’s Wars- the Wars of the Roses- from the point of view of the women involved. Her seven case studies are Marguerite of Anjou, the Lancastrian queen; Elizabeth Woodville, the Yorkist queen; Cecily Nevill, the would-be Yorkist queen and Elizabeth Woodville’s mother in law; Margaret of Burgundy, Cecily’s youngest daughter who made an illustrious marriage to a duke; Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII’s mother; Anne ...more
Rebecca
So the women of the Wars of the Roses -- more specifically, Margaret Beaufort and Elizabeth Woodville (Wydville) have always held great interest for me. A couple of thoughts:

1) This book is clearly meant as a popular history, not an academic one. It's meant for audiences who have some, but not necessarily in-depth, knowledge of late medieval England. I had an easier time keeping the names straight in Gristwood's work than I did in the first Wars of the Roses book I read (another popular history,
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Claire
Necessariamente un pochino frettoloso, perché segue, in poco più di quattrocento pagine (meno se contiamo note e indici vari), il ruolo di ben sette donne nella Guerra delle due rose e oltre: Marguerite d'Anjou, la grande sconfitta; Elizabeth Woodville, la prima trionfatrice; Margaret Beaufort, la vincitrice finale; Elizabeth of York, che unì le due dinastie; Anne Neville, regina per meno di due anni; Cecily Neville, madre di due re; Margaret of York, la diabolica duchessa.

Per una volta gli uomi
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Lauren
Sarah Gristwood aims to tell us the story of the women who played a role in the Wars of the Roses, but produces no new material with which to do this. Inevitably therefore, the reader is left with a familiar story of the male protagonists, peppered with minute-and usually inconsequential-detail about the female characters. It is the nature of the source material that limits Gristwood, and she admirably tries to make some intelligent observations. The difficulty with this book is that for a reade ...more
Paula Connelly
I was given this book as a gift and I must admit I would not have read it otherwise. This is because the author contributed to a documentary associated with Philippa Gregory's "White Queen" and both these programmes were, to be blunt, dreadful.

Just a few pages into the book I very nearly gave up on it. There seemed to be too many references to Shakespeare for my liking and I wasn't enjoying the style of writing either. I persevered and I'm pleased that I did, because it really wasn't such a bad
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Lisa
Women such as Marguerite of Anjou,, Margaret of Burgundy and Margaret of Beaufort recruited armies, arranged marriages and supported political factions. They also gave alms to charity and even played a large role in supporting universities and scholarship. These important women of the Middle Ages certainly didn't let any grass grow under their feet! The women of the Wars of the Roses have often been regarded as unimportant, but Blood Sisters does them justice.

This book also evokes the splendid p
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Malapata
Blood Sisters nos presenta una historia de la Guerra de las Dos Rosas, que agitó Inglaterra en la segunda mitad del siglo XV, poniendo el énfasis en sus protagonistas femeninas. Este punto de vista, que pudiera parecer intersante en un primer momento, acaba siendo un lastre. No porque las mujeres no jugaran un papel importante en ciertos momentos de la contienda, sino por la forma de tratar el tema por parte de Gristwood.

Así, cuando las mujeres juegan un papel activo en la contienda como al inic
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Athena Ninlil
This book provides enormous detail into a period that has become as the period that followed, a sensationalist one. The author brilliantly deconstructs in the first sections the myths that every woman was out to out-do the other and they were all natural rivals pit against a medieval cat-fight. By their sorrows, by their experiences, they were all brought together at one point.

The only thing that I had a problem were these words that were associated when speaking of Margaret Beaufort and her onl
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Heather
I thought this was a very good overview of the women in the Cousins' War. These biographies are becoming increasingly popular, I think, since the release of "The White Queen" TV series. This particular book follows a chronological narrative (rather than laying out each individual biography) of the time period. The women's lives are shown as being interwoven and closely knit, as they were, and the reality of this time period having actual blood kin fighting one another is clearly laid out.

Gristw
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Conor Byrne
The Wars of the Roses have never been so popular with the general public, particularly with the airing of the BBC TV adaptation of Philippa Gregory's "The White Queen". This period was exciting, uncertain, and often devastating. The lives of the people who were the main players in this 'game of thrones' were remarkable, particularly involving the seven powerful women included in Gristwood's study.

These women were extraordinary personalities; particularly the vengeful but admirable Margaret (Marg
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Ambrosia Sullivan
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.
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Jo Barton
The War of the Roses shook the very foundations of England, when cousin armed against cousin, fought for power in a domestic drama on a grand scale. The ruling Plantagenets had two warring factions; the House of Lancaster and the House of York, both had equal and valid claims to the English throne as descendants of Edward III. Taking their symbols as red and white roses, the royal houses of Lancaster and York not only divided their family, but also alienated England.

Generally overlooked by their
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Mike Clarke
Sarah Gristwood's book is a bumper biography that will doubtless appeal to the value-conscious history reader. Its seven women figured in English history around the end of the middle ages, during the Wars of the Roses. Cecily Neville, the Yorkist matriarch; Marguerite of Anjou, 'Captain Margaret', the fearless but ultimately doomed fighting wife of Henry VI; Margaret Beaufort, the mother of the Tudor dynasty; Anne Neville, luckless wife of a despised king; Elizabeth Woodville and her daughter El ...more
Lorin
I must admit that I never ever wanted to explore the period dubbed "war of the roses" and I really don't know why but I suppose it was because I just loved the Tudor era from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I. However, now that I have read a few historical fiction pieces on the "war of the roses" era, I am becoming more and more informed on the characters that shaped this time and beginning to want to know more on each of them. This book by Sarah Gristwood was wonderful. It gave you a real appreciation ...more
Eileen
What's not to like about English history! This book is very well written, keeps to the facts without the needless speculation some histories contain. Gristwood profiles the women of the War of The Roses to perfection. This was a time when women were usually relegated to the background, especially when there were so many very strong men in the picture. However those strong men had equally strong women supporting them as wives, mothers, and other kinship connections. This book follows their storie ...more
Dorothy
I highly and enthusiastically recommend "Blood Sisters" by Sarah Gristwood. A fascinating and compelling account of the War of the Roses from the vantage point of the mothers, sisters, daughters and wives who also played central and catalytic roles. The life of the medieval woman was hard and terribly often, terribly short. Womanhood began early...Margaret Beaufort gave birth to the future Henry VII when she was just 14. She never bore a child or was known to be pregnant again. Elizabeth Woodvil ...more
Jennifer
Wow; what a fantastic book! I've read quite a bit about the "Wars of the Roses", but as is typical of the times, the story was centered around the men in the story. It's too bad; because there were some incredibly complex, strong, independent women supporting these men. These women schemed, manipulated, sacrificed, protected their children, triumphed and failed. All seven of the women profiled in this book deserve our respect; they lived in a time when men controlled politics, but these women di ...more
Tinika
Sarah Gristwold writes a biography featuring seven women of the 15th Century. (Cecily Neville, her daughter Mararet of Burgundy, her daughters-in-law Elizabeth Woodville and Anne Neville, her grand-daughter Elizabeth of York, plus Margaret Beaufort and Marguerite of Anjou) Though I have read fictionalized accounts of most of these women and have a general knowledge of the Cousins' War, it was interesting to read what the historical record reveals. Fortune's Wheel is an apt symbol for these women ...more
Karen Floyd
A thorough and well-balanced attempt at re-creating the lives of the Yorkist and Lancastrian royal women. Gristwood has done an admirable job of piecing their stories together from state papers, private correspondence, and unreliable historians. Many of these "historians" were writing after the fact and for the winning side, and promoting their patrons' version of events. We will probably never know, for example, whether or not Anne Neville wanted to marry Richard III or what really happened to ...more
Jaclyn
After reading The Kingmakers Daughter and before The White Princess comes out from Phillipa Gregory I came across this book at my library. This book is from the women's prospective during the Wars of the Roses as it is known and less known as the Cousins War. As we all know in the 1400s women's opinion did not matter as much as mans and their lives were rarely documented. Sarah Gristwood took what she could find and tried to give us, readers, what it would be like to live in that era. She follow ...more
Becky
I enjoyed that the women finally got some respect. Much of what is written about these women centers around their husbands and/or children, but in this book, the men take a back seat. In those times, these women might have been reliant on their husbands (and fathers) for their standing, but most appeared to make their own path in life, aside from their spouse. Margaret Beaufort maneuvered (and possibly risked) the most to put her sole child on the throne. Marguerite of Anjou also fought for her ...more
Marilyn
Dec 07, 2013 Marilyn rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the British monarchy, or the Wars of the Roses in particular.
I love Sarah Gristwood's style of writing, she has the ability to bring history alive, and leave you with a better understanding of the monarchs she focuses on. Chose to read this book, first because I so enjoyed her book, Arbella: England's Lost Queen. Once more, she delivers with Blood Sisters: The Women Behind The Wars of the Roses. I think that this book was as always, very well researched, and a friendly read for fans of historical fiction, as she made it quite easy to follow despite the fa ...more
Kara

Gristwood manages to cover the War of the Roses in manner that makes it actually possible to track the events and people of the insanely complicated English civil war. She digs up some new material, paying close attention to invoices and receipts, which, as any snooping spouse knows, can be very revealing.

However, despite her theme of This-Time-Its-All-About-The-Women, the men of the time period still dominate the text, and she doesn’t bring some of her focal characters forward as much as she s
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Mark Gibbs
The Wars of the roses have too often been as the preserve of over - mighty royal barons slugging it out and knocking each other senseless at Towton, Barnet, Wakefield, Bosworth and Stoke. This book redresses the balance - telling the fascinating stories of the women who were often the driving force - but too often obscured - behind the bloody dynastic battles

Lady Queen Margurite of Anjou , a 'she wolf of France and England' who fought valiantly at the various battlefield for her deranged and un
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Girl with her Head in a Book
The women behind The War of the Roses have been enjoying something of a resurge in popularity in recent years, in part due to the dubious writing 'talents' of Philippa Gregory which brought The White Queen to the small screen last year. I really enjoyed the series, I actually kept up with every single episode which is very unusual for me. I had never really considered before about the incredible lives these ladies had. Elizabeth of York was the daughter of the King of England, the sister of the ...more
Laura
Very good book about the women involved in the "War of the Roses". History comes alive when seen not in terms of battles, dates and such. These are women who were wives, mothers, daughters, pawns many times, but many times also controlling the game. History, written by men, mostly discounts the involvement of the women. It is refreshing to read a book that brings their role to the forefront.
Lynne (EVHS)
I never knew much about the "War of the Roses" (which actually turned out to be multiple "wars" between various members of the British royal family -- all connected with gaining power or avoiding a loss of power! In this book, I learned about the ancestry connected to the "Tudor" name, which surprised me. Interestingly, this book focused on the chief women involved in the various feuds and the well-researched details made for interesting reading. The author helped readers by providing a glossary ...more
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Sarah Gristwood attended Oxford and then worked as a journalist specializing in the arts and women's issues. She has contributed to The Times, Guardian, Independent, and Evening Standard.
More about Sarah Gristwood...
Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics Arbella: England's Lost Queen The Girl in the Mirror The Breakfast at Tiffany's Companion Bird Of Paradise: The Colourful Career of the First Mrs Robinson

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