I'd been looking forward to the latest book from Elizabeth Norton, having previously been impressed by her work on Tudor queens and her wonderful book Margaret Beaufort: Mother of the Tudor Dynasty. The Lives of Tudor Women could have the subtitle 'the seven ages of Tudor life' as it explores the many diverse facets of their times by contrasting women at different stages in their lives.
I've recently read many books about Elizabeth of York, so was glad to find a fresh perspective on what she went through providing Henry VII with an heir. (Luckily she had privileged access to pain relief - a sacred relic reputed to be the girdle of the Virgin Mary.)
Equally harrowing are accounts of what women such as the courageously defiant Anne Askew had to endure for their faith. Although familiar with Anne's story, it seems a particularly poignant (if extreme) example of the hardships faced by Tudor women at all levels of society.
At the same time, a picture emerges of confident women, stepping out of the shadows to take their place alongside Tudor men. Culminating with an ageing Queen Elizabeth clinging on to her 'Gloriana' image, I learnt something new in every chapter. I particularly enjoyed the little 'asides' sprinkled through the narrative, where Elizabeth Norton offers an insight into her considerable research.
Highly readable and informative, I'm happy to recommend this book not just for those of us with a fascination for the Tudor times but for anyone who wants to understand the history of the place of women in the world.
# # #
About the Author