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I’m not particularly interested in reading the Cousins’ War novels, but I thought I might get this, which purports to be the research behind the novels. Does anyone have any thoughts on whether it’s worth reading?

In particular, the phrase “...the extraordinary 'true' stories...” makes me wonder how much of the book is informed extrapolation and how much sheer fantasy.


I was highly amused to note the following differences between the synopses at Amazon and The Book People:

The Book People

Esteemed historians Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin and Michael Jones have combined to write The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen and the King's Mother - a book that contains three biographical essays. The book covers the lives of Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beufort and Jacquetta (Lady Rivers) and gives readers the extraordinary 'true' stories of the life of these women who have now largely been forgotten by history. It considers their background and times and highlights the questions raised in fiction and in Philippa's successful Cousins' War novels about each lady. Beautifully illustrated, she writes revealingly about the differences between history and fiction and examines the gaps in the historical record.


Amazon

Philippa Gregory and two historians, leading experts in their field who helped Philippa to research the novels, tell the extraordinary 'true' stories of the life of these women who until now have been largely forgotten by history, their background and times, highlighting questions which are raised in the fiction and illuminating the novels. With a foreword by Philippa Gregory - in which Philippa writes revealingly about the differences between history and fiction and examines the gaps in the historical record - and beautifully illustrated with rare portraits, The Women of the Cousins' War is an exciting new addition to the Philippa Gregory oeuvre.




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(no subject)

Date: 2012-10-20 11:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jayb111.livejournal.com
Philippa Gregory is beautifully illustrated?

I'm automatically put off by blurbs which set up arguments which no-one believed in the first place, so they can purport to demolish them. In this case, that Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort have been 'forgotten by history.' Surely anyone with even a passing interest in the 15th century knows who they were?

If it's research-based the book should have evidence cited to back up arguments, proper references to all sources quoted and a bibliography. Without all those there's no way to tell 'how much of the book is informed extrapolation and how much sheer fantasy', as you say.

Next time I'm near a Waterstone's, I'll have a look.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-10-20 11:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dorsetgirl.livejournal.com
I decided in the end to go for it anyway - I always like to take half a dozen brand new books on holiday - my once-a-year treat - so I wanted to get it ordered. It was only £7 at Amazon.

the book should have evidence cited ... proper references

After posting I went looking for reviews, and a common theme is that there are no references, and that Gregory does not write like a historian. I've decided all of that is OK with me; as long as the writing style is bearable I shall just be happy to learn some new ideas and ways of looking at things. In family history I do things properly, with cross-checking and references and being as certain as possible, but in this kind of thing I'm a lay person who loves history, rather than an academic historian. So while I obviously like to know what's true and what's guessing, I gather from the reviews that copious use of "maybe" and "perhaps" throughout the book should be clue enough to that.

And I agree that the idea of Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort being "forgotten by history" is a strange one. Jacquetta, maybe, but I know very well who she is and if I do, surely "history" does?

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