Normally I have a really hard time with history books because they focus a lot on things I don’t really care that much about: male power struggles over land and resources. I don’t deny that such things are worthy of study–I just don’t want to be the one who does it. I’m far more interested in history that delves into social and cultural aspects, and especially history that deals with women. Basically, I’m more interested in what people ate, read, wore, looked at, and who they loved then over political struggles.
This book was a welcome relief for me. It still talks about a lot of war/power struggling for context, but it still manages to keep my interest. Well-researched and presented in an interesting, readable format, Helen Castor’s book details the lives and struggles for power of four (well, seven really) women in times where men had the express right to rule. I really appreciate how complex Castor’s women are. Despite the lacking historical records, she manages to give her subjects depth. She is sympathetic, but is able to look at them for what they are, to stunning results. If you’re interested in English history, but wish it was a little more woman-centric, this is the book for you.