UK Reviews of ‘Tudor: The Family Story’ by Leanda de Lisle

UK Reviews of ‘Tudor: The Family Story 1437-1603′ by Leanda de Lisle have started appearing.

(c) Chatto & Windus

(c) Chatto & Windus

‘Such is our continuing fascination with the Tudors that the author could have struggled to find anything new to say. In fact, her compellingly written book not only illuminates obscure family members – Lady Margaret Douglas, Henry VIII’s niece and the grandmother of James I, emerges as a significant link between the Tudors and the Stuarts who succeeded them – but also provides fresh perspectives on some of the most familiar figures in our history.

De Lisle challenges conventional portraits of Henry VIII and his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth I, in a work that elegantly combines wide-ranging research with fluent narrative.’

From: Monarchy Maker – Review by Nick Rennison – The Cutlure (The Sunday Times) – 22 September 2013, p39

‘…highly readable but no less scholarly biography: emphasising the role that women play in any dynastic society’

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Review: Tudor – The Family Story, By Leanda de Lisle – How to breed a dynasty by Lesley McDowell
– The Independent – 8 September 2013

‘The Tudor family tree comes to vivid life in this enthralling history’

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Tudor: The Family Story by Leanda de Lisle, review by Helen Castor
– The Daily Telegraph – 6 September 2013

‘Her crisp, uninterfering style lets the story tell itself. Almost every page is vivid with the well-noted detail.’

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Lessons of a dynasty mired in blood and faith Tudor, by Leanda de Lisle – review by Charles Moore The Telegraph – 1 September 2013

‘For those wanting a more grown-up experience of the Tudor past, there are few better places to start than Leanda de Lisle’s new study.

Her briskly paced narrative traverses a vast historical terrain: from the dynastic struggles between Lancastrians and Yorkists in the 15th century…via the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, to England’s life-and-death struggle with Spain in the 1580s and 1590s.

Many have told this story before. What makes de Lisle’s account so fresh is her decision to start her ‘family story’ not in 1485 when ‘good’ Henry Tudor beat ‘wicked’ Richard III at Bosworth and won the English crown for the new Tudor dynasty, but three generations earlier.

…In de Lisle’s account, all this is much more than just a colourful back story. It provides the political and psychological context within which so many of the Tudor monarchs’ later preoccupations and paranoias – their terror of a return to civil war, their ruthlessness – becomes comprehensible.

From the Welsh obscurity of their rise to the spinsterly glory of their extinction with the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, contemporary Europe produced no family saga that could match the Tudors.

Rarely has that story been told so well as here.’

From: The Tudors: a real drama – Review by John Adamson – Event (The Mail on Sunday) – 1 September 2013, p36-37.

‘But there is more to the Tudors than this reforming despot and his virgin daughter. What Leanda de Lisle has provided is an accomplished new perspective from the family’s Welsh origins to its extinction at the peak of its power.

…De Lisle is perhaps most interesting when discussing Henry’s daughter Elizabeth. Her reign was beset by courtiers encouraging her to marry and settle the question of succession. But as de Lisle says: “The Royal Family was for Elizabeth not a source of future stability but of immediate threat.” She was paranoid that those closest were constantly plotting her downfall and intent on getting her crown. Elizabeth “sought their murder, she drove them to despair and even madness, so she could die a natural death as queen in her bed”.

…If you thought there was nothing new to say about the Tudors think again: Leanda de Lisle has written a thorough and engaging reappraisal of this most paradoxical of dynasties. A reforming family of upstarts feared for the ferocious politics of their court yet who set an agenda that affects us still today.’

From: Racy dynasty with a core of pure steel – Review by Jessica Furst – The Daily Express – 16 August 2013

‘Leanda de Lisle’s accomplished survey of the ‘Renaissance romance and gothic horror’ of the Tudor era provides a vibrant reappraisal of this turbulent family saga.’

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Tudor, by Leanda de Lisle – review by Anne Somerset The Spectator – 10 August 2013

This fresh take on the Tudor dynasty is history at its best. Covering everything from the Tudors’ obscure beginnings, when a Welsh squire named Owen Tudor literally fell into the lap of Henry V’s widow, Catherine of Valois, and later married her, to the death of the couple’s great-great-granddaughter, Elizabeth I…This compelling tale is driven by three-dimensional people and relationships, and de Lisle does a fantastic job of making them feel lived and dramatic.’

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Nonfiction Review: Tudor: The Family Story – Publishers Weekly

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