If you’re like me and love a good book you know the feeling of picking up a good book and immediately feeling the need to read every piece of work ever written by that author. That was the instant connection I had when I first read “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory back in middle school. I quickly got my hands on copies of everything else she had published and since that day I’ve been a loyal follower.
Gregory’s work speaks to me for a number of reasons. It’s simple and beautiful and the flow and gift of storytelling is very obvious in every scene that she writes. She tends to focus on the forgotten women of history. Women that are there, on the edge of our history books, but whose role and influence on shaping historic events as been overlooked by classic view of history as told by white men.
As I prepare for my first trip to England and my first chance to walk in the footsteps of so many of these women I have read about for years I figured a great way to prepare would be to re-read as many of Phillipa’s works as I can before my trip. On her website today, http://www.philippagregory.com/books, she has her books displayed in the chronogoical order of when they take place in history.
This weekend I finished re-reading the story of Jacquetta, the Duchess of Bedford, in “The Lady of the Rivers” that came out in 2011. Jacquetta’s store as told by Gregory is another fantastic view on a women in a time when women had very few legal rights but who was willing to make her own destiny by whatever means she could.
As always I could barely put down the book until I had finished it and I immediately started in on the next one, “The Red Queen”, about Margaret Beaufort. The writing in all of her books transports you to another time when men and women had to fight for every ounce of power.
I love exploring and learning about history through fiction like Gregory’s works. If I read a historical fiction book about a time or person I don’t know much about I tend to follow up with a non-fiction book. In my experience and from what I do know Gregory is one of the most accurate historical fiction writers out there. She takes care with her work and even published a nonfiction book about the women of this time period called “The Women of the Cousins’ War” that I am also planning on devouring before my trip.
If you want to know more about this time period in a fun way I can’t recommend any of her writing enough.