by Lisa Hilton
Publisher: Pegasus Classics
Page Count: 496
How got: Kindle Unlimited library
Why read: to learn more about lesser known medieval queens
Meet the subjects of history’s greatest dramas: the first queens of England
Though their royal husbands occupy the lion’s share of history books, the queens of early England are fascinating subjects in their own right. Lisa Hilton’s Queens Consort vividly evokes the lives and times of England’s first queens, from Matilda of Flanders and the Norman conquest of England to Elizabeth of York and the beginning of the Tudor dynasty.
By profiling twenty different queens, Hilton provides an intricate and dramatic composite of the English monarch: from the ruthless Isabella of France, who violently gained control of England by dispatching Edward II, to the beloved Matilda of Scotland, known for her intelligence and devotion despite her philandering husband, Henry I; and from a girl who was crowned at the age of nine to a commoner who climbed the social ladder at the most opportune moment. Queens Consort dispels many of the myths that have surrounded these women for centuries, while simultaneously illuminating lesser-known facts about their lives.
Star Rating - 3 Stars
I was thrilled to see this book; the personalities of the medieval queens of England are incredibly large and vibrant for the time period. The author gives us a window into their lives and personalities, even to the lesser known like Adelizia of Louvain, making them breathe with relevance and making them real people to a modern audience. I really enjoyed getting to know them on a personal level and seeing the role they played on a grander scale. I also was enthralled to see how the role of queens changed throughout the Middles Ages that the author explored.
The amount of research and information that went into this works is astounding. The sheer wealth of information presented makes my jaw drop; the author must have been at it for years. I also liked that she wrote in such a way that the reader is kept engaged and isn’t tired out from an excess of dry facts and figures. Chunks of primary material are kept to a minimum, and the author keeps her readers engaged with her research being interwoven with her own words.
However, this book did suffer in a few areas that kept it from being a truly stellar work. First off is the lack of editing and proofreading. I’m not sure if the author didn’t have other people editing her work or not; I would think for a professionally published work that she would, though. Yet, there are typos and grammar mistakes literally everywhere. Spaces where there shouldn’t be, randomly inserted letters/misspellings, and the occasional run-on sentence made me grit my teeth in frustration. I can just imagine the frustration of a true grammar Nazi…
Then there is the overuse of symbolism the author utilizes throughout, especially in her comparisons to the Virgin Mary and queen-ship. Sometimes the conclusions the author reaches when utilizing these comparisons seemed far-fetched, but maybe that’s just me. Yet, I did find the amount of times these comparisons and symbols being used in the narrative excessive and overused.
So not a bad work overall, especially in an area that isn’t explored much in non-fiction. The author breathes personalities into people that might otherwise be footnotes in history or stereotypes for all queens or she-wolves of history. The amount of research is clearly evident and shines through, to the author’s credit. However, an abundance of typos and grammar mistakes along with an excessive use of questionable symbols keep this from being a true forerunner in the nonfiction body of work on medieval queens of England.