Monday, 26 September 2011

Philippa Gregory

I have recently been sent two Philippa Gregory books by her publishers (thank you, Simon and Schuster): The Lady of the Rivers and The Women of the Cousins' War. Incidentally, I should probably state something of a personal interest here, since this is very much my period of history and covers part of of the proposed third volume of my own trilogy on the Plantagenets. 

The former is one of Gregory's excellent historical novels and features as its heroine not Elizabeth Woodville but her mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, about whom I knew relatively little apart from the fact that she was Elizabeth's mother, and was originally married to John, Duke of Bedford, younger brother of HenryV and therefore much older than Jacquetta. Gregory builds a wonderful story around Jacquetta and the various intrigues at court. I'm not sure to what extent any of this is supported by direct evidence but, hey, this is fiction and very good fiction it is too. Anybody who likes historical fiction will love this book.

The latter features three biographies, co-authored with David Baldwin and Michael Jones. Jacquetta and Elizabeth, but also the redoubtable Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor. I really enjoyed this too. To be honest I did not learn much that I did not already know about Elizabeth, having read fairly extensively about her already, but I have never really considered the historical narrative from the viewpoint of either of the other two women, and was genuinely enlightened by reading as to the roles which they played. Thank you again to Simon and Schuster for being prepared to publish a work like this which is genuinely important but, alas, likely to appeal to a fairly limited audience.

I thoroughly recommend both these books.

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