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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
"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.
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