Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir

Alison Weir writes my absolutely favorite nonfiction. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this timely biography of Elizabeth of York: daughter, sister, niece, wife, and mother to kings, and she perhaps should have been queen of England in her own right.

Elizabeth of York Front Cover (Ballantine Books/Random House)

Elizabeth of York Front Cover (Ballantine Books/Random House)

THE COVERAGE: The book begins with a quick summary of the beginning of the Wars of the Roses. It’s not enough to give a lot of details or overwhelm the reader, but glances over Henry VI, the Kingmaker Warwick, and how Edward IV got to the throne. Elizabeth’s story then begins with birth of Edward’s first child, a princess. It continues through her trips into Sanctuary, engagement to the French dauphin, possible romance with Uncle Richard III, marriage to Henry VII, riding out various pretenders who claim to be one of her lost brothers (the “princes in the tower”), birth of royal children (including Arthur, first husband to Catherine of Aragon; Margaret, queen of Scotland; Henry VIII; and Mary, queen of France), and eventual death and burial.

MY TWO CENTS: The good thing about Elizabeth of York is that as a person in the middle of significant historical turmoil, there are a lot of primary sources about her family, so we have quite a lot of fairly accurate information about her entire life. (Of course, some information can never be “accurate,” such as the fate of her brothers or her and Henry’s private true feelings for each other.) The bad thing about Elizabeth of York is that, unlike her mother, she was a person to whom things generally happened as opposed to someone who made things happen. While her story is very interesting, keep in mind that she’s pretty much never the master of her own fate.  I call this a “timely” biography in that The White Queen has just been airing in the USA, and Philippa Gregory’s last bestseller was The White Princess. (For what it’s worth, the historical Elizabeth is a much less wishy-washy character than Gregory’s fictional Elizabeth.)

TEACUP RATING: I give this five teacups, but remember, I generally love Alison Weir’s nonfiction. (Her fiction can be hit-or-miss for me, although I found the last one, A Dangerous Inheritance, very good.) Some readers may be tempted to skip over lists of Elizabeth’s accounts…I personally find that primary source fascinating.

ON SALE DATE: Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World will be on sale in the USA on December 3rd.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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