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The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother [Hardcover]

Philippa Gregory , David Baldwin , Michael Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 13 2011
#1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory joins two eminent historians to explore the extraordinary true stories of three women largely forgotten by history: Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford; Elizabeth Woodville, queen of England; and Margaret Beaufort, the founder of the Tudor dynasty.

In her essay on Jacquetta, Philippa Gregory uses original documents, archaeology, and histories of myth and witchcraft to create the first-ever biography of the young duchess who survived two reigns and two wars to become the first lady at two rival courts. David Baldwin, established authority on the Wars of the Roses, tells the story of Elizabeth Woodville, the first commoner to marry a king of England for love. And Michael Jones, fellow of the Royal Historical Society, writes of Margaret Beaufort, the almost-unknown matriarch of the House of Tudor.

Beautifully illustrated throughout with rare portraits and source materials, The Women of the Cousins’ War offers fascinating insights into the inspirations behind Philippa Gregory’s fiction and will appeal to all with an interest in this epic period.

Frequently Bought Together

The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother + The White Princess + The Kingmaker's Daughter
Price For All Three: CDN$ 56.58

  • The White Princess CDN$ 18.80
  • The Kingmaker's Daughter CDN$ 18.89

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Product Description


"[Gregory] again brings insight to English history, recreating the power struggle between two of the nation's most notable women in a tale fresh for modern readers. There's no question that she is the best at what she does." --Associated Press

“An engrossing introduction to three courageous matriarchs who shaped English history.” (Publishers Weekly)

“An engaging and interesting read . . . Fans of Gregory’s novels should enjoy this glimpse into both her creative process and her essays on the three women who served as inspiration for her ‘Wars of the Roses’ novels.” (The Post and Courier (Charleston))

“The publication of two books this season by Philippa Gregory gives us not only two more fascinating portraits of the English Wars of the Roses, it also opens a window onto the way the bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl applies her craft.” (Los Angeles Times)

About the Author

Philippa Gregory is the author of several bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. She studied history at the University of Sussex and received a Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh. She welcomes visitors to her website,
David Baldwin taught history at the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham for many years, and is the author of four books detailing the Wars of the Roses, including the acclaimed Elizabeth Woodville, Mother of the Princes in the Tower.
Michael Jones wrote his dissertation on the Beaufort family and taught at the University of South West England, the University of Glasgow, and Winchester College. He is the author of six books, including The King’s Mother, which was shortlisted for the Whitfield Prize.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Non-fiction Feb. 2 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is not the usual Philippa Gregory novel, but an historical book about the three female characters she writes about in her novels. I found the introduction to the book by Gregory to be the best part of it. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I thought I would.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Women of the Cousins War Nov. 16 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This work of non-fiction is very interesting. Philippa Gregory and two of her cohorts have each written a short story about Margaret of Anjou, Elizabeth Woodville and the mother of King Henry VII, using available historical records and letters. It is a very worthwhile read for those who have interest in history and the Royal Family.
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3.0 out of 5 stars ... for the book but other than that all was good. Sept. 22 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was expecting the cover for the book but other than that all was good.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  86 reviews
117 of 119 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The real women behind the stories Sept. 13 2011
By Amanda - Published on
As someone who doesn't read very much nonfiction, I was a little apprehensive about reading The Women of the Cousins' War, but I was so fascinated by Elizabeth Woodville of The White Queen and Margaret Beaufort of The Red Queen, that I was drawn to this book, especially since it comes from Philippa Gregory. For the book, Gregory teamed up with two other historians, David Baldwin and Michael Jones, to explore the real lives of the women behind her novels.

Gregory opens the book was a unique introduction that explores the role (or lack thereof) of women in history, as well as Gregory's personal reasons for writing novels about this little-known women. Most interestingly, she gives readers a glimpse into her own writing process, own own motivations for writing what she does, and the difficulties of doing historical research that lead to large holes that are later filled in with fiction.

Gregory takes the lead with the first essay on Jacquetta of Luxembourg, the mother of Elizabeth Woodville. Gregory explains that when she went to research Jacquetta for her novel The Lady of the Rivers, there was no biography available about her, so she had to conduct her own research to learn about Jacquetta. Gregory pens a fascinating account of Jacquetta's life, tracing it from her birth up to her death and through the many complex politics between. Of all the essays in the book, I found Gregory's to be the easiest to read and enjoy, mostly because it pulls on her fiction writing abilities and seems to explore more of her subject's motivations and emotions than the other essays.

Next comes David Baldwin, who pens an essay on the life of Elizabeth Woodville, Jacquetta's daughter. Though filled with precise accuracy, I found it to be a little bit dry and difficult to read. This was probably because my brain had honed into Gregory's style in the previous essay, and Baldwin chose to stick more strongly to fact, and didn't theorize much on what Elizabeth likely thought or felt. While informative, I wouldn't consider Baldwin's essay light reading.

Last, historian Michael Jones chronicles the life of Margaret Beaufort, the virtually unknown matriarch of the Tudor family and grandmother to Henry VIII. Thankfully, Jones' writing reads much more smoothly than Baldwin's, and I particularly enjoyed the fact that Jones went further back than Margaret's birth to discuss the unique origins of the Beaufort family. Giving all this back story really helped to put Margaret and her life into context, and I felt like I had a greater understanding of Margaret's "character." Also, I kind of hate to say it, but I found Jones' short essay on Margaret to be a little more interesting than The Red Queen, which I thought was the weaker of Gregory's first two novels on the Cousins' War.

A must-read for history buffs and hardcore Gregory fans, Women of the Cousins' War helps to reveal who these little-known women were and why their lives are worth the study and interest of people today. Complete with family trees, maps, portraits and other images of the period, the lives of these fascinating women from history fully come to life.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great companion to the Cousins' War series Oct. 2 2011
By Confessions of a Book Addict - Published on
Gregory wrote the first portion on Jacquetta herself, so immediately I was pulled in by her writing style. Even though it is non-fiction, Gregory has a knack of hooking readers in and captivating us with her knowledge; plus, Jacquetta's life is so fascinating. It's no wonder I was easily hooked. Jacquetta's second marriage to Richard Woodville always enthralls me as it defied convention since he wasn't of royal blood; essentially, she married for love. Her stints with magic and accusations of witchcraft also add to my amusement. I absolutely loved learning more about Jacquetta's incredible life.

The second segment is by historian David Baldwin and it concentrates on Elizabeth Woodville, whose rise from a struggling single mother to a Queen is downright fascinating. Although I felt Baldwin's portion wasn't as easy to read as Gregory's, it still filled in the many gaps in my knowledge and answered my many questions concerning Elizabeth's life. After reading The White Queen, I had so many questions about the princes in the tower and Baldwin touched on many of the possible theories.

The last section is about Margaret Beaufort and is written by historian Michael Jones. I found Margaret to be a snooze-fest in Gregory's The Red Queen, so I was hesitant to read this portion. However, Jones really brought her to life. I was blown away by her childhood. I knew it was pretty horrible, but Jones explains it a bit more. I found this to be very helpful and ultimately, it explained why she acted the way she did in The Red Queen. After reading this write-up on Margaret, I've come to respect her more; you can't deny how devoted she was to her cause.

The Women of the Cousins' War is displayed proudly on my bookshelf right next to the Gregory's other books from the Cousins' War series. Like I said before, not only does this non-fiction text bridge any gaps in my learning about the War of the Roes, it also helps me to enjoy Gregory's series that much more.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The introduction is better than the book itself Sept. 23 2011
By brenmiy - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book was all right. The three women are well defined, or at least as well defined as our current levels of research allow. All three biographies are very readable, although they do not really shed any more light on the women than other more comprehensive biographies I have read.

The real treat of this book was in Philippa Gregory's introduction. Her definition of historical fiction was spot on, and I agree completely with her theory that it is just as viable a form of writing as any other, provided the author does their research and incorporates the facts as seamlessly as possible in with their imaginings. Considering that history changes, or at least our viewpoint of it does, every time the Vatican opens its files or a new treasure trove of material is discovered, is well researched historical fiction really that much different from actual history? Nonfiction history pieces the tale together from known records, but it is still piecing. Historical fiction, if the author knows the subject, does the same thing, but with greater intimate detail and assumptions.

So read the book. But also read the introductory essays from Ms Gregory. They are worth the purchase of the book on their own merit.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fact Not Fiction Oct. 26 2011
By P. Woodland - Published on
This is a non-fiction book. I have seen reviews where people read it thinking it was a novel and were disappointed - of course they were! Real history is never as fleshed out as an historical novel especially they further back you go in time. That does not mean it has to be a trial to read.

This book was NOT a trial; it was very easy to read and very informative. Each author took one of the three woman that Ms. Gregory had profiled in her trilogy covering what most people know as The War of the Roses but what was known in its time as The Cousins' War. Ms. Gregory also provides a very extensive introduction as to the origins of the book and the difficulties in writing about people from the time period and about women in particular.

Ms. Gregory explains in that introduction that there is very little historical record left about the three women profiled; Jacquetta Woodville, Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort and yet the book is sold as a tome about them. In this I was a touch disappointed - I suppose I wanted to know more about them but there is only so much to be known. The three separate histories were all very well written and I came away with a much deeper comfort level of the whos and whats of The Cousins War. It is a truly confusing time in history given that many of the names are quite similar and families were fighting each other. This is a very interesting history of the time written from three distinct points of view.

Each author presents the events as they effect and surround his subject and while the facts do not change the players in each section do and that offers slight variations that make each woman a fascinating study. I cannot fault the authors that history did not leave more of a record and I want to know more. It was a time period when women were considered chattel if they were considered at all.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book being the history geek that I am. If you are at all interested in this subject this would be a good book to help sort out the basics. As I said it is not at all dry and dusty and you will find yourselves drawn into a time when cousins were killing each other to try and rule England.
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fiction Becomes Non-Fiction Nov. 6 2011
By Meg @ A Bookish Affair - Published on
Jacquetta, Elizabeth, and Margaret are three formidable ladies that Gregory covers in her Cousins' War trilogy. Jacquetta was known for her witchcraft and for giving birth to one of the Queen's of England, Elizabeth Woodville. Elizabeth Woodville becomes one of the founding mothers of the new royal family. Margaret Beaufort becomes the grandmother of Henry VIII. All of these women had a profound affect on the future of the English royal family.

Gregory, Jones, and Baldwin each ...more Jacquetta, Elizabeth, and Margaret are three formidable ladies that Gregory covers in her Cousins' War trilogy. Jacquetta was known for her witchcraft and for giving birth to one of the Queen's of England, Elizabeth Woodville. Elizabeth Woodville becomes one of the founding mothers of the new royal family. Margaret Beaufort becomes the grandmother of Henry VIII. All of these women had a profound affect on the future of the English royal family.

Gregory, Jones, and Baldwin each take on one of these ladies and fills in a little more of their background than you get in the trilogy. It was nice to learn a little bit more. It even made me appreciate Margaret Beaufort a little more (you'll remember I wasn't a big fan of her book, The Red Queen). This is a great introduction if you haven't read the trilogy yet or a great complement if you have read some or all of the trilogy.

Okay, and for all you that fear non-fiction, this is a great springing off point to show you that non-fiction books don't have to be scary. This book is fact filled but still very accessible!

Bottom line: History and Historical Fiction lovers alike will enjoy this book!
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