[Review] Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood

Title: Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses
Author: Sarah Gristwood
Publisher: Basic Books 26 February 2013
Genre: Non-fiction, history, British history, Kings and Queens of England, House of Plantagenet, House of York, House of Lancaster, House of Neville, House of Tudor, History, England, Medieval England
Theme: The women who were apart of The Cousin's War, or better known as The War of the Roses.
Format: Hardcover
Age: Adult
Pages: 432, with 19 color illustrations
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Self-purchased
William Shakespeare's view of choice of roses for York and Lancaster.
Sarah Gristwood's website: http://www.sarahgristwood.co.uk/ 

See also: http://www.medievalarchives.com/2012/10/08/map-blood-sisters-author-sarah-gristwood-interview/

Margaret Anjou

Margaret Beaufort

Sarah Gristwood examines the lives of seven women who were apart of The War of the Roses.
  1. Marguerite of Anjou
  2. Cecily Neville
  3. Margaret Beaufort
  4. Elizabeth Woodville
  5. Margaret of Burgandy
  6. Elizabeth of York
  7. Anne Neville
Other women in the House of York and House of Lancaster, House of Tudor and House of Neville, and House of Woodville, are written about as well. 
The years explored are from 1445-1509.

This is a fascinating examination of historical women, and I read it from cover to cover in about a day in a half.
Gristwood stated: "The aim of this book, unlike those that have come before it, is to interweave these women's individual stories and thereby trace the connections between them."
I feel she did a marvelous job. I've read several books on each of these women, but never all of them concurrently at the same time. Gristwood shared facts on each of the women. For example when one of them was pregnant or had just delivered a baby, one of the other women was also pregnant or had just delivered a baby. I was able to understand the timeline of events for this history a bit better, because of the broad scope of each of them.
Elizabeth of York is a fascinating woman. I wonder how she honestly felt, unspoken of course, about her brothers that were probably murdered in The Tower. She had an attachment to Richard III, the man rumored to have been the perpetrator for the crime against her brothers. The author explored that these were different times and to be careful not to judge. I'm not judging, but surely she had a conscience as we all do? Gristwood explores different angles of how Elizabeth of York must have felt, as well as her mother Elizabeth Woodville.
My favorite woman from this book is Margaret Beaufort. She's a survivor, savvy, a tiny lady with a big heart.
My second favorite woman is Anne Neville. The author alluded to the brief amount of information written and known about her. Suspicious. I wonder if Richard III kept Anne "quiet"?
Gristwood was careful to not interject her own bias. She explained what facts were known, the culture of the times, how people viewed royal court and accepted or kept quiet about questionable shenanigans.

Elizabeth Woodville
Anne Neville


  1. Thank you for the post and all the links!

  2. The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood!! I am highly appreciate by read this! Wonderful!!

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