The Women of the Cousins’ War The Duchess, the Queen, and the King’s Mother ~ Philippa Gregory; David Baldwin; Michael Jones
Genre: Adult Non-Fiction Historical
It is true what they say: “you can take the girl out of politics but you’ll never take the politics out of the girl”. Don’t know that one? Well, it’s an old standby for me. Since I was a little kid, system dynamics and the stories of politics and power have always been of high interest. Now, I’ve generally relegated my interest to the past few decades or, at least, the last couple of centuries.
It turns out that the same old games have been going on for as long as we’ve had any semblance of organized society. Philippa Gregory’s latest non-fiction rundown of the ladies involved in The Cousins’ War (betterment known, now, as The War of the Roses), demonstrates that midieval political life and strife were not very different than today’s drama.
In her joint project, with fellow historians David Baldwin and Micheal Jones, Gregory gives readers the blueprint material behind her three fictional women who have become the focus of her Cousins’ War series. I have to say that I’ve now read two out of the three in the series and it’s really quite delightful. For readers who love the time period but have been burned out on Tudor Mania, recently, Gregory ‘s new set of books offers a welcome relief.
As far as the nonfiction account, this is a very interesting format by which to back up the novels. While the history itself reads a bit like a modern-day mobster movie (family loyalties, covert offings and general, social unrest) my favorite part of the book was Gregory’s opening piece about why she began writing about the three featured women in the first place.
Much like Virginia Woolf’s observations in A Room of One’s Own, Gregory highlights the serious setbacks women have faced over time and why women have been shut out of politics and thus, history. Those who have the means and allowance to learn, do, but those who are shut out by social repression or finances, simply don’t make it into the books as they are not able to get onto the field in the first place. Of course, this has, thankfully changed today, in large part, even though money and background still create obstacles for so many. I won’t get too deep but I will say that this introduction and thought provoking bit from Gregory was one of my favorite parts of the book.
In that line of thinking, the only part that I found I had an issue with was in the other end of things. After all three stories are told, the book simply ends. I would have liked a bit of conclusive wrap up on how telling these stories will perhaps effect the history of future women in politics. No book can be perfect, of course, and the whole thing is well written and well executed despite my desire for more.
This is a susinct little telling that I definitely recommend it to Gregory fans and just history fans in general, especially (but not only) those interested in women’s role in politics.