Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Review Wednesday – Blood Sister

Even if you're not a History buff, chances are you've heard of Henry VIII, the infamous 16th century English king who married six times. Ever wondered what were the reasons behind his actions (other than his immediate pleasure)?  Some believe he was a bit crazy by the end (watch this awesome documentary for more on that,) but chances are his reign was greatly influence by his grandmother, Margaret Beaufort, who against all odds, managed to come out victorious of the civil war we know as the War of the Roses.  If you want to know more about that war, Marguerite Beaufort and the other women who fought to defend their right to the throne, then Blood Sisters is for you.

Gristwood starts her narrative with a rising Marguerite of Anjou and ends it with Marguerite Beaufort's death.  The book follows the chronological order of event – as is customary for Historical non-fiction – but sometimes she goes back or forth in time to illustrate the influence of a specific event.  This is done skillfully which prevents the reader from being confused.  However, the overwhelming presence of Margarets and Marguerites can be a bit confusing.  The family tree at the beginning of the book comes handy at such times. 

Not only does the author paint a vivid portrait of the different event that unfolded during the war she also has a real talent to bring those long dead historical figures to life.  She often reflects on the feelings this or that woman might have feel at different points in time.  She also uses many different sources in order to create a picture as accurate as possible of the different women (as much as the remaining historical documents allow.)

Personally, I am fascinated with English history so I really enjoyed reading this book. I have read historical non-fiction that was much more drier;  Blood Sisters doesn't read like a textbook at all.  Also, the different sections as well as the chapters' division make it easy to put down and pick up the book without losing track.  I believe this is an essential read if you want to understand the Tudor dynasty.

Although the series is not as accurate, I would recommend watching the BBC's The White Queen before reading the book.  It really helped me figure out who was who and conveniently put a face on the different names.  


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