In Newgate Street, in the city of London, stand the meagre ruins of Christ Church. On the same site once stood a royal mausoleum set to rival Westminster Abbey in the 14th century. Among the many crowned heads buried there was Isabella of France, Edward II's queen - one of the most notorious femme fatales in history. But how did she acquire her evil reputation? And is it justified? Alison Weir's engrossing biography sets out to put the record straight.
©2005 Alison Weir; (P) W F Howes Ltd
"Pierces the veil of history with scholarly precision....A serious rendering of a sensational life." (Irish Times)
I am normally not a person interested in this kind of books but another family member had purchased it. I started to listen to it with a sense of "I'll give it 5 minutes..", but when the 5 minutes were up, I was hooked. It is a story of a great - but for me hitherto unknown - personality, intellectually told and with a lot of sensible distance to the object. A great history told in a very interesting way. When I had listened to the first two parts I thought the story was over, but was delighted to find out there was a third part! This book would become a great movie.
This is a rare academic book that sounds less like a textbook and more like an interesting story. There are a few tedious moments of minute household account details, but overall this was interesting and entertaining, even if Ms. Weir has other ideas about what happened to Edward II. ;) Its definitely a worthwhile read for history fans.
a book full of fascinating details, all working together to bring the characters to life. i found the voice of the reader to be mature, calm, unobtrusive, and she held my attention without slipping into the kind of performance art so many readers offer. no stage theatrics here. it has been a very relaxing but stimulating experience. all biographies should be this wonderful.
"fabric artist and quilter"
This was a fascinating biography of an extraordinary woman for her age - the 14th century was not a time for rampant feminism but Isabella was a woman to be reckoned with. Its a period in history of great changes, huge loss of life both in wars and in the Black Death and the beginnings of an awakening that was to become the Renaissance and through it all lived Isabella, wife of the pathetic King Edward II and lover of the tyrannical Mortimer.
History has been unkind to Isabella and in this book Alison Weir has set the record straight and makes a wonderful job of it. Lisette Lecat did a superb job of narrating it and her french accent pronouncing the french place names that cropped up throughout the book was wonderful - these names would have been tripped over and bastardised by any English or American narrator - Lisette was perfect for the role.
Highly recommended for those interested in the 14th Century, English History and those who enjoy a good revolution, murder and women with big personalities.
This was a captivating, well-researched and intelligently presented biography of the fascinating Isabella. Highly recommended to an intelligent, well-educated readership.
I've read most of Weir's books, both historical fiction or like this book, fiction/history. Alas, I must say that I would rather have read than heard this very methodical review of everything everyone wore, ate, wrote, etc. Better read than heard in my opinion.
I am really glad that I bought this book before reading the reviews -- because if I had not, I may not have. So it's important to remember that a review is always going to be subjective.
That said, I loved it and found it really, really interesting. And I happen to really like Alison Weir's voice and accent, which helped.
It's worth it to find out.
Very long and drawn out with absolutely no personality involved in the narration. It MIGHT be an interesting read but it wasn't read with much interest
I was interested in the real story of Isabella and after listening to this book I have so much sympathy for her. It's just another example of society pointing to the worst aspects of women and ignoring the cause and the good qualities.
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
I got this book for the Audible $7.95 membership fee. If I'd paid $40, I would be the "The She-Wolf of America! Weir is out of her league with this ambitious project, better left to writers like Antonia Fraser. Weir ruins the book by summing up the 21 hour foray in the first 30 minutes. The book could have been a mere 4 hours if the writer didn't wast so much time on minutiae. For example, spend a lot of time on Isabella's birth date, going from 1291 to 1298, then back again, like the reader will check her facts at the Hall of Records. She quotes whole sermons, speeches, letters, TOMBSTONES, in ad nauseum. She claims that Isabella was a "debauched Jesebel", yet never tells what the queen did to deserve these labels. We get indepth descriptions of rooms in every palace and estate in Christendom in mind-numbing detail but we never get a real picture of what Isabelle looked like, other than "beautiful". No hair color, height, weight, etc. Weir admits that very little is known about the French princess' life prior to coming to England so she compensates by devoting almost 10 hours on her husband's homosexual liaisons. Isabella may deserve a place in history for driving her husband from the throne but hardly compares to Queens Elizabeth I and Victoria. If you really want to learn of Isabella's exploits, check out "The Lives of the Kings and Queens of England" by Antonia Fraser for a lot less money, with a big bonus of the bios of every English monarch from William The Conqueror to Queen Elizabeth II. Or just read Isabella's bio at Wikipedia.org which is what I was forced to do after this confusing hodgepodge. "She-Wolf" Not so much. Isabella was no Elizabeth Bathory. Unless you want to stick a pencil in your neck, spend your money on a good meal with friends!
"Excellent Historical Work"
Well researched, complete and thorough life of Isabella, fairly assessed, and an excellent overview of this crucial period in English history.
This is a serious historical work using all the sources available for the period. It is neither a novel nor light listening. If you are looking for historical biography disregard the complaining reviews. You will not waste your credit.
The book is well if a little starchily read. Mind you the reader has to decide when sources are being quoted and of course one cannot see references.
"A Gripping Story"
I loved this as much as I had the book. Having become a night time listener this was, for me, an ideal saga of a strong and powerful woman. As always Alison Weir brings a wealth of facts into the narrative but never distracts from the story. The narrator was just right.
The title 'Isabella - she wolf of France' is somewhat misleading. The book is really a chronicle of her life and at the very end the author admits that Isabella did not deserve the title given to her. Her life was interesting to a degree but the book only says where she was when. Purely a record of her progress and rather dull listening. The exciting sounding title made me want to hear more of this woman who lived very close to me in a castle - now ruined. I kept waiting for something to happen but the book is lacking in drama although probably historically accurate. I was very disappointed
"Far, far too much unnecessary detail"
I am disappointed by this book as I’ve enjoyed other books by the author. I’ve given up after about 8 hours as the book is so overburdened by superfluous details. I don’t need to know the intricate genealogy of minor royals and aristocracy of France and England, the architecture, decor and repairs, if needed, of every property visited by the King and Queen (and there are an awful lot), shopping lists for banquets, supplies for the royal stables or the names and wages of numerous employees of the royal households. The latter might be of interest if the shillings per week weren’t just converted into exactly equivalent decimal currency, I don’t need to be told that 1 shilling equals 5 pence, but how much that wage would be taking into account inflation. All this detail bogs down what should be an interesting historical novel and converts it into an academic thesis in which a student has to show that she has dug out every fact available about medieval life. It would be tedious to read but totally unsuitable for an audio book in which it’s difficult to skip the boring bits.
By the time I gave up the book seemed more about Edward II’s lack of judgement and extravagance and yet another example of why monarchy as a way to govern a country is a lottery.
The narrator is good and I sympathsize with her having to read such a long book of facts.
Murder, intrigue, infidelity. As compelling as Game of Thrones, except it actually happened! Only four stars as a little dry in places but otherwise brilliant.
"Very good in parts but editing would have helped"
Having listened to this book I know a lot more about Isabella, Mortimer and Edward II. There were times when I felt I needed to force myself to continue to listen as details of household accounts were listed and, for some reason I cannot understand, translated from pounds, shillings and pence to pounds and new pence without any attempt to account for inflation. There is little point in knowing three shillings and sixpence spent on food is equivalent to 17 pence without understanding that an annual income of ten pounds would have been considered a large amount.
The description of the disrespect shown to Isabella by Edward II and his infatuation and dominance by Piers Gaveston and Hugh Dispencer sticks in my mind. It showed the arrogance of absolute monarchs and the way being in the Kings favour was a route to fame and riches( not to say animosity and death)
Other than some americanism and mispronunciations Lisette Lecat made a good job of the reading. I am sometime left wondering who actually listens to the whole of the readings before they are release and whether they don't notice the errors or si,ply let them pass.
About 75% of this book is interesting, well argued and very well presented. The problem is you have to listen to the other 25% to get to it.
"Meticulous detail, but a bit boring"
Having listened to and really enjoyed Lancaster and York by Alison Weir, I very much looked forward to listening to Isabella, She-Wolf of France. This book is meticulous in its level of detail, but unfortunately in my opinion this made it rather dry and boring at times. That said, I finished it as I am very interested in learning more about this historical period. I would recommend the book in terms of increasing my knowledge - but not as a pleasurable read.
"Was it the kings fault or Isabella's?"
Isabella of France is shown as the victim, the perpetrator and the third wheel on a racing bike. AW shows the decisions Isabelle was forced to make from when she first becomes a wife until she dies. I will definitely read again.
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