Rachel72's Reviews > Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultery, and Murder in Medieval England

Queen Isabella by Alison Weir
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's review
Jan 21, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: don-t-bother, ahistorical, your-homophobia-is-showing, mary-sue, 14th-century, biography
Read in January, 2008

Weir's premise, that Isabella has been demonised throughout history and therefore merits a more objective analysis, was what interested me in this. Unfortunately, in trying to "rehabilitate" the subject, it goes way too far in the other direction. This was a terribly biased biography, in fact I would describe it as hagiography, completely with purple prose describing Isabella and Mortimer's relationship (which Weir posits as having been sexual - while this is widely assumed to be the case, there's no actual evidence of it), and offensively homophobic comments about Edward II and his close relationships with Piers Gaveston, Hugh Despenser etc. Observations such as "Mortimer was everything Edward II was not: manly, virile, unequivocally heterosexual" did not read merely as reflections of contemporary attitudes, but appeared to stem from authorial bias. What was even more disturbing though was the whitewashing of Isabella, and presentation of her as a tragic victim - she is represented as a strong, independent woman ... except when she does something unpalatable, and then she's the pawn of unscrupulous men. This strikes me as a very paternalistic analysis. I can't recommend this, I'm afraid.
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