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BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Alison Weir's Mary Boleyn.

In this vibrant biography, acclaimed author Alison Weir reexamines the life of Isabella of England, one of history’s most notorious and charismatic queens. Isabella arrived in London in 1308, the spirited twelve-year-old daughter of King Philip IV of France. Her marriage to the heir to England’s throne was designed to heal old political wounds between the two countries, and in the years that followed she became an important figure, a determined and clever woman whose influence would come to last centuries. Many myths and legends have been woven around Isabella’s story, but in this first full biography in more than 150 years, Alison Weir gives a groundbreaking new perspective.

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Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on Dec 26, 2006
ISBN: 9780345497062
List price: $13.99
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A typically well written and absorbing biography by this author. Sympathetic to a much maligned historical figure, while retaining a critical perspective. I read this immediately before Ian Mortimer's book on Roger Mortimer, which made for an interesting juxtaposition of perspectives on these two linked personalities.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Normally I steam through books in one sitting, but this one is a harder nut to crack. It's very dense (well, it is a proper historical work and has a lot of stuff in the late 13th and early 14th century to lay out or recover from fragmentary sources). It's quite slow. But mostly, the point of it is to redeem or explain Isabella, who was married to Edward II (you'll know him as the one who died from a red-hot poker up the bum). The thing is that I hadn't heard of her before opening up this book, so had no particular need to have her redeemed to me - though finding out that it's quite likely that Edward didn't die of a red-hot poker after all is interesting, and the strong possibility that he escaped to the continent instead is even better. Quite exciting, that!

I'd recommend her book about the Princes in the Tower, or the other one about Eleanor of Acquitaine, more than this one - but I am getting plenty out of it, to be fair.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A fascinating look into this much disparaged Queen. Weir does much to rehabilitate Isabella, even going so far as to gain sympathy towards her subject. This work does much to dispel some of the myths about this infamous queen.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

A typically well written and absorbing biography by this author. Sympathetic to a much maligned historical figure, while retaining a critical perspective. I read this immediately before Ian Mortimer's book on Roger Mortimer, which made for an interesting juxtaposition of perspectives on these two linked personalities.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Normally I steam through books in one sitting, but this one is a harder nut to crack. It's very dense (well, it is a proper historical work and has a lot of stuff in the late 13th and early 14th century to lay out or recover from fragmentary sources). It's quite slow. But mostly, the point of it is to redeem or explain Isabella, who was married to Edward II (you'll know him as the one who died from a red-hot poker up the bum). The thing is that I hadn't heard of her before opening up this book, so had no particular need to have her redeemed to me - though finding out that it's quite likely that Edward didn't die of a red-hot poker after all is interesting, and the strong possibility that he escaped to the continent instead is even better. Quite exciting, that!

I'd recommend her book about the Princes in the Tower, or the other one about Eleanor of Acquitaine, more than this one - but I am getting plenty out of it, to be fair.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A fascinating look into this much disparaged Queen. Weir does much to rehabilitate Isabella, even going so far as to gain sympathy towards her subject. This work does much to dispel some of the myths about this infamous queen.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A well written book by a respected historian. The book, though well argued, does make several assumptions that it does not fully explain; at times it reads more like an apologia, intent on rehabilitating Isabella for modern sensibilities than examining her story. Still, the book's clear narrative prose saves it from being dull, and it provides an excellent snapshot of the time.
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A struggle to get through this biography. Heavily footnoted, it reads like dry history, excruciatingly detailed. Weir is certainly slanted sympathetically toward Isabella. I don't find much to like about Isabella. Her main contribution to worthiness is having given birth to Edward III.
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I really tried to like this book. Inasmuch as I am an avid student of history and enjoy the tangled web of early to mid twentieth century English history, this book seemed right up my alley. I can't say that it is a bad book, but upon reflection, perhaps the most telling fact is that it took me so long to finish it. A book of this size generally takes me about a week to finish, reading for an hour or so each night before bed. Most nights, however, found me nodding off in less than half the time. Weir's style can best be described as a dry recitation of historical facts with frequent asides in which she injects her own analysis. Hardly scintillating entertainment and simply not lively enough to keep me awake. From the standpoint of substance, I can't say that I agree with her efforts to rehabiltate the universally condemned Queen Isabella, the wife of Edward II of England. Isabella conspired against, overthrew, cheated on and likely participated in the murder of her husband and sovereign. According to Weir, she was simply misunderstood and unfairly judged. To my knowledge, she is the only one that believes so. In order to back up her position, Weir not only spins facts to the benefit of the Queen, but she weaves many out of whole cloth and disregards the numerous facts which clearly implicate her in the crimes for which history has condemned her. In an attempt to absolve the Queen of the crime of murder, she even trots out the old, roundly rejected canard that Edward II escaped from his captors and lived the remainder of his life as a hermit in France. This despite the public, state funeral in which the body and face of the King were clearly displayed and visible to thousands. As if an escape somehow lessens the crime of ordering the murder in the first place. Even in the cases where she concedes guilt on the part of the Queen, such as her adulterous relationship with Mortimer, she pardons the Queen, holding her to current standards as opposed to those in which she lived. In this regard, she clearly states that were Queen Isabella alive today, she would be viewed as a strong, independent woman, deserving of praise and not scorn (You go, girl). Nice theory, except for the fact that she didn't live in current times. In her day, regicide was perhaps the greatest crime and sin of the day, and adultery by a royal woman was universally punishable by death. I've read several of Weir's works and to date am not impressed. She seems to be on a personal crusade to rehabiltate the reputations of various women of the Middle Ages that for some reason or another have been judged harshly by history. I've never been a fan of revisionist history and particularly when the revisions are politically or socially motivated. This book is not only not particularly entertaining, but it's not even good history.
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