Review: Elizabeth of York, Alison Weir

Rating: 1 out of 5

I don’t know why I even tried reading this, having so recently tried another book by Ms Weir. Perhaps it is that I hoped Elizabeth of York would have more source material to describe her—and this was true! The author specifically stated in the introduction that this was a fortuitous person to be writing about as unlike so many others, lots of material has made it to us. And, then, the majority of the book is written as if it was wild conjecture!

I really don’t have more time for this sort of nonsense. I’ve long thought that the people Ms Weir wants to write about are people whose biographies would be a joy to read. I still think that. But, I think I will leave Eleanor of Aquitaine and Katheryne Swynford to some other time, because this author has the need to indulge in fruitless speculation even when she has primary sources to base herself on.

Entire chapters within this work start and carry on along the lines of “Probably this happened” and “It is tempting to think” and “We don’t really know, but this may have happened”. Well, if one can’t write a narrative history, write fiction. Especially given the overwhelming overview that’s given of the War of the Roses and the Princes in the Tower, relevant though not exactly pertinent topics, this book would do far better as historical fiction as the author could escape the need to begin every paragraph with such notes on what they think may have happened.

Added to this was the same problem I noted with regards to Mary Boleyn: every factoid that the author was sure to have happened was mentioned at least three times. While repetition is the mother of all knowledge, cutting this out would have made for a far better book.

Overall, I cannot recommend this—though I would have really wanted to.

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