cover image The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother

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

Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin, and Michael Jones. Touchstone, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4516-2954-5

This tripartite account treats three formidable women for their roles in the dynastic civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. Bestselling historical novelist Gregory tells the story of Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Henry VIII's great-grandmother. The staunch Lancastrian made her peace with Yorkist Edward IV when he seized power and saw her fortunes soar after he married her daughter Elizabeth Woodville. But later her second husband and their son were executed by the rebel leader earl of Warwick, who tried Jacquetta for witchcraft. University of Leicester historian Baldwin relates the life of Jacquetta's plucky daughter, Elizabeth Woodville, Henry VIII's grandmother, who did her utmost to secure the throne for her son Edward and may have been involved in a rebellion against son-in-law Henry. British historian Jones recounts the story of Margaret Beaufort, a formidable plotter whose personal piety never interfered with her ambition for her son%E2%80%94who became Henry VII despite a tenuous claim to the throne. Although this collection is often repetitious and lacks a consistent voice and cohesive overview on the origins of the Wars of the Roses, it's an engrossing introduction to three courageous matriarchs who shaped English history. Illus.; maps. (Sept.)