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Epitaph for Three Women

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On the death of Henry the fifth, a nine-month-old baby is made King of England. Ambitious men surround the baby king, including his two uncles, the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester. Shrewd and clever, Bedford seeks to uphold all his late brother had won and preserve it for young Henry the sixth. Gloucester, a man of poor judgment, greedy for wealth and power, has other idea On the death of Henry the fifth, a nine-month-old baby is made King of England. Ambitious men surround the baby king, including his two uncles, the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester. Shrewd and clever, Bedford seeks to uphold all his late brother had won and preserve it for young Henry the sixth. Gloucester, a man of poor judgment, greedy for wealth and power, has other ideas. In Lancastrian England and war-torn France, there are three women whose lives are to have a marked effect on the future. Katherine de Valois, haunted by an unhappy childhood, finds love in an unexpected quarter and founds the Tudor dynasty; Joan of Arc leaves her village pastures on the command of heavenly voices; and Eleanor of Gloucester is drawn into a murder plot and becomes the centre of a cause celebre. Murder, greed and ambition flourish alongside sacrifice, dedication and courage. These are turbulent times as the defeated become the victorious...


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On the death of Henry the fifth, a nine-month-old baby is made King of England. Ambitious men surround the baby king, including his two uncles, the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester. Shrewd and clever, Bedford seeks to uphold all his late brother had won and preserve it for young Henry the sixth. Gloucester, a man of poor judgment, greedy for wealth and power, has other idea On the death of Henry the fifth, a nine-month-old baby is made King of England. Ambitious men surround the baby king, including his two uncles, the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester. Shrewd and clever, Bedford seeks to uphold all his late brother had won and preserve it for young Henry the sixth. Gloucester, a man of poor judgment, greedy for wealth and power, has other ideas. In Lancastrian England and war-torn France, there are three women whose lives are to have a marked effect on the future. Katherine de Valois, haunted by an unhappy childhood, finds love in an unexpected quarter and founds the Tudor dynasty; Joan of Arc leaves her village pastures on the command of heavenly voices; and Eleanor of Gloucester is drawn into a murder plot and becomes the centre of a cause celebre. Murder, greed and ambition flourish alongside sacrifice, dedication and courage. These are turbulent times as the defeated become the victorious...

55 review for Epitaph for Three Women

  1. 5 out of 5

    graveyardgremlin

    2.5 stars Epitaph for Three Women turned out to be far less about these three women than I was led to believe by the book's description. Broken into three parts titled Katherine of Valois, Joan of Arc, and Eleanor of Gloucester, only Joan, or Jeannette rather, has an actual story that follows her path in life. The other two are background players to the politics going on at the time, especially those concerning the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester and England's fight for France. Whenever Katherine 2.5 stars Epitaph for Three Women turned out to be far less about these three women than I was led to believe by the book's description. Broken into three parts titled Katherine of Valois, Joan of Arc, and Eleanor of Gloucester, only Joan, or Jeannette rather, has an actual story that follows her path in life. The other two are background players to the politics going on at the time, especially those concerning the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester and England's fight for France. Whenever Katherine enters the picture, it's all light, airy, and extremely romanticized, especially in regards to Owen Tudor. For most of the book they live a totally idyllic life that doesn't feel realistic in the least. Eleanor Cobham is portrayed as a scheming, crown-hungry social climber who proves far too trusting of witches and soothsayers. Isabeau of Bavaria fares even worse and I got tired of the constant references to how whorish she was. Since this was written, historians have looked into the accuracy of her reputation and dismissed certain facets as untrue. Still, this isn't a completely bad book. Putting aside Katherine's storyline where she only made cameo appearances anyway, I enjoyed the first part the most. Not knowing much about this period, the history was fascinating. The second featuring Jeannette was my least favorite, but I lay full blame at my feet because I have just never cared for Joan of Arc's story, so found most of this part boring. While there was some interesting information in the book, I didn't love the book but it's an easy introduction to this particular time. For more information on Eleanor Cobham, I recommend Susan Higginbotham's guest post at Madame Guillotine. Originally Reviewed: October 17, 2012 Received: Local Library

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    This book nicely fills in the historical period covered by the first Henry VI play; the time from the death of Henry V to the death of Gloucester and the marriage of Henry VI. It does this by telling the story of three women: Katherine of Valois, Joan of Arc, and Eleanor of Gloucester. It was an engaging and interesting historical fiction covering a time, before the Wars of the Roses, that I didn't know much about. This book nicely fills in the historical period covered by the first Henry VI play; the time from the death of Henry V to the death of Gloucester and the marriage of Henry VI. It does this by telling the story of three women: Katherine of Valois, Joan of Arc, and Eleanor of Gloucester. It was an engaging and interesting historical fiction covering a time, before the Wars of the Roses, that I didn't know much about.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lady Jane Grey

    I always wanted to read Jean Plaidy's Plantagenet Saga and this year I realized I had all the books in the series (finally!) and what was I waiting for?! Some I've liked more than others and I was feeling like I needed to be more strict with my rating system so I thought I would give the books an average of 4 stars. I'm weird and go through phases of being very generous with stars and then being very stingy with them. When I'm stingy, I think I want to look like a more knowledgeable reader. Sorry I always wanted to read Jean Plaidy's Plantagenet Saga and this year I realized I had all the books in the series (finally!) and what was I waiting for?! Some I've liked more than others and I was feeling like I needed to be more strict with my rating system so I thought I would give the books an average of 4 stars. I'm weird and go through phases of being very generous with stars and then being very stingy with them. When I'm stingy, I think I want to look like a more knowledgeable reader. Sorry, prologue over, after reading this book I went back and gave the books all 5 stars because Jean Plaidy was a genius and deserves it. Actually, it was halfway through this book. This particular one is told in three segments, one focused on Katherine of Valois' story, the other Joan of Arc, then finishing with Eleanor Cobham. I read a lot of Christian fiction, but after reading the other books in the series up to this, I had sort of gotten into the secular fiction frame of mind. Jean Plaidy's work is always tasteful so I don't want to make her work sound bad, it's just that there were a lot of people that didn't put much in store with God and religion or if they did, there wasn't really much of a feeling for that in the books. So I read the first part with Katherine of Valois, and then it jumped right away to Joan of Arc. In other books when it is separated into parts, it doesn't usually change so drastically to a totally different story, but that seemed to be what happened here. I read about Joan's life in the country and her more simple way of thinking and at first I was like, "Come ON, I want to get back to the story!" Then I forgot about the other story as I hung out with Joan more. I followed Joan into the world I had been living in for the previous books and my first reintroduction was her meeting with a nobleman and seeing his mistress. After hanging out with Joan and her purity, I was startled and shocked. Then the rest of the series started coming back to me and how different the nobility acted and thought and . . . I think that's about as close as I'm going to get as far as explaining how brilliant it was. You think you know enough about history not to be surprised with twists, but Jean Plaidy can still do that! Then she wrote this insane series and brilliantly made the book fit as stand alones or series books. In high school I only had "Star of Lancaster" and I was able to pick it up and feel like I got a good story. The whole thing is just brilliant. So they all get 5 stars, but this one gets a long inspired review and really is the best in the series.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Phil Syphe

    I feel the author should’ve written a separate book for Joan of Arc. The inclusion of her story here in the middle of the book feels utterly misplaced and it messes up the narrative flow. It doesn’t help that – after Part 1 – Part 2 starts by going back in time, repeating events that have already been documented. But then repeating information is an annoying Plaidy’s trait. Once we reach Part 3, there are repeated references of Henry VI harking back to when he saw Joan imprisoned, to mention jus I feel the author should’ve written a separate book for Joan of Arc. The inclusion of her story here in the middle of the book feels utterly misplaced and it messes up the narrative flow. It doesn’t help that – after Part 1 – Part 2 starts by going back in time, repeating events that have already been documented. But then repeating information is an annoying Plaidy’s trait. Once we reach Part 3, there are repeated references of Henry VI harking back to when he saw Joan imprisoned, to mention just one recycled theme. As with the previous books in the Plantagenet series, the author tries to cover the lives of too many people involved during the period covered. Because of her need to pack everything in, events are rushed over, which leads to lots of "telling" and a lack of "showing". Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, is a fascinating historical person. Pity the author couldn’t have made more of Eleanor’s story. Like most books by this author, this one had the potential of being much better.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    There's a lot more telling the showing - huge blocks of background info dumping between conversations any sort of present action - but there is still a fascinating story here of the political chaos that spun out from the early and unexpected death of Henry V. The book sets out to follow the lives of Katherine of Valois, Elanor Cobham and Jeanne d'Arc during the minority of Henry VI, both their own actions and how they are effect by others, but they are somewhat swallowed up by the large cast they There's a lot more telling the showing - huge blocks of background info dumping between conversations any sort of present action - but there is still a fascinating story here of the political chaos that spun out from the early and unexpected death of Henry V. The book sets out to follow the lives of Katherine of Valois, Elanor Cobham and Jeanne d'Arc during the minority of Henry VI, both their own actions and how they are effect by others, but they are somewhat swallowed up by the large cast they have to compete with for stage time, especially the Dukes of Gloucester, Bedford and Burgundy, fighting like dogs for every piece of power. No one really wins in this dog fight, and certainly most of the regular citizens lose as war rages in France's backyard. And, though Plaidy seems to miss this theme, we see how women are used as scapegoats as punishments for powerful men's crimes. All three women have their ups and downs - with some truly spectacular swoops of both, often turning on a dime - and they all crash and burn at men's say so - but my personal favorite was Eleanor Cobham and her raw ambition - I would have loved to see her get her own book, rather than having to be spliced in between the saintly Jeanne and the ingenue Katherine.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christine Cazeneuve

    I liked the book but didn't love it like I have the majority of her books. I may be a bit biased as I am definitely not a fan of Joan of Arc. The book focuses on Katherine of Valois, Joan of Arc and Eleanor of Gloucester. Eleanor was my favorite character as I guess my evil side (lol) loves to see people crash and burn. The book is broken up into three sections, focusing one section on each of the three women. Took me longer to read than most of her books because I just had a hard time getting i I liked the book but didn't love it like I have the majority of her books. I may be a bit biased as I am definitely not a fan of Joan of Arc. The book focuses on Katherine of Valois, Joan of Arc and Eleanor of Gloucester. Eleanor was my favorite character as I guess my evil side (lol) loves to see people crash and burn. The book is broken up into three sections, focusing one section on each of the three women. Took me longer to read than most of her books because I just had a hard time getting into it. This is the third to last book in her saga/series and I am sad to see it end.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kasthoori

    This is the first of Jean Plaidy's works that I've read and I really like her story telling technique. Loved the pace and the minimal focus on long descriptions. This is the first of Jean Plaidy's works that I've read and I really like her story telling technique. Loved the pace and the minimal focus on long descriptions.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Francine Chu

    I continue to marvel at how Plaidy can weave history facts so wonderfully and well into evocative fiction; you feel like you are there alongside with the characters who lived eons ago

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

    2.5 stars. Read the Joan of Arc story so many times its gotten tedious. Katherine story was sweet at times but Eleanor was almost cartoonish. An easy read but not Plaidy's best. 2.5 stars. Read the Joan of Arc story so many times its gotten tedious. Katherine story was sweet at times but Eleanor was almost cartoonish. An easy read but not Plaidy's best.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bettina

    A sidewards step in Plaidy's Plantagenet saga, probably filling in time until Henry VI becomes of age, tells the story of 3 contemporary women who influenced history. Katherine of Valois, widow of Henry V which gave us the Tudor connection, Joan of Arc and the Countess of Gloucester ( who nobody will have heard of and is less influential). A plodding book, which was easy to read, interesting, especially the story of Joan of Arc, but not the best written or most exciting book I've read A sidewards step in Plaidy's Plantagenet saga, probably filling in time until Henry VI becomes of age, tells the story of 3 contemporary women who influenced history. Katherine of Valois, widow of Henry V which gave us the Tudor connection, Joan of Arc and the Countess of Gloucester ( who nobody will have heard of and is less influential). A plodding book, which was easy to read, interesting, especially the story of Joan of Arc, but not the best written or most exciting book I've read

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sue Law

    As in "The Battle of the Queens", Plaidy struggles to find a coherent thread to take her through the years of Henry VI's minority. The book is divided into 3 parts, the first and last covering the story of Queen Katherine (Henry V's widow) and Eleanor, 2nd wife of Humphrey of Gloucester. The second part is totally disconnected, being the tale of Joan of Arc. Not one of her best. As in "The Battle of the Queens", Plaidy struggles to find a coherent thread to take her through the years of Henry VI's minority. The book is divided into 3 parts, the first and last covering the story of Queen Katherine (Henry V's widow) and Eleanor, 2nd wife of Humphrey of Gloucester. The second part is totally disconnected, being the tale of Joan of Arc. Not one of her best.

  12. 4 out of 5

    An Odd1

    "Epitaph for Three Women" by Jean Plaidy are prophecies of doom fulfilled, villains betray and triumph over good amid constant conspiracies for power centered around the babe Henry VI b 1421, new King. Sad fates are facts of history, not spoilers. Katherine de Valoise, widowed from England's Henry V at age 21, feels like an outsider, lighter of heart after talking with his Welsh squire Owen Tudor. Part II, peasant Jeanette d'Arc sees visions of virgin Saints and hears their voices calling her to "Epitaph for Three Women" by Jean Plaidy are prophecies of doom fulfilled, villains betray and triumph over good amid constant conspiracies for power centered around the babe Henry VI b 1421, new King. Sad fates are facts of history, not spoilers. Katherine de Valoise, widowed from England's Henry V at age 21, feels like an outsider, lighter of heart after talking with his Welsh squire Owen Tudor. Part II, peasant Jeanette d'Arc sees visions of virgin Saints and hears their voices calling her to ensure the crowning of France's King Charles VII at Rheims, burned by the English. Part III ambitious busty Eleanore goes from mistress to Duchess of Gloucester, but consults witches to get with child and promote king's uncle Duke to the ultimate power. The author's skill is believable words that change history from memorized names and dates to suffering humanity with common motivations. I disbelieve all wished for simpler lives. Other talents may recreate atmospheres of place and time, or vigorous action. Like a celebrity magazine, the featured individuals attract us by name and postion.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Pickstone

    Plaidy relied heavily on 'received' history in writing this and it detracts from the story. To be fair, this is her usual modus operandi so I shouldn't complain; somehow it falls flat and renders the characters very two dimensional. Also, digesting 3 main characters into one book has made sure that none of them are explored as they should have been: Katharine, for instance, was rumoured to be having an affair with Beaufort, who barely makes an entrance, and her marriage to Owen Tudor is handled Plaidy relied heavily on 'received' history in writing this and it detracts from the story. To be fair, this is her usual modus operandi so I shouldn't complain; somehow it falls flat and renders the characters very two dimensional. Also, digesting 3 main characters into one book has made sure that none of them are explored as they should have been: Katharine, for instance, was rumoured to be having an affair with Beaufort, who barely makes an entrance, and her marriage to Owen Tudor is handled almost as if it was an everyday occurrence. Odd.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Catherine of Valois, Joan of Arc, and Eleanor Cobham - wildly diverse individuals, each pushing their personalities to the limit - it is 15th century England and Lancastrian France, peopled by such heroes as Henry V. a strong flame that at its extinction left so much turmoil. Jean Plaidy tells this story directly and well, covering twenty five or so years of vibrant history.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    This was a fair Plaidy history. It was the only one in the Plantagenent Saga I hadn't read. It was good to learn a little more about Joan of Arc and Eleanor of Gloucester. I thought I knew the story of Katherine of Valois. It had a much sadder ending than I realized. This one is not necessary to be knowledgeable about the Plantagenets. This was a fair Plaidy history. It was the only one in the Plantagenent Saga I hadn't read. It was good to learn a little more about Joan of Arc and Eleanor of Gloucester. I thought I knew the story of Katherine of Valois. It had a much sadder ending than I realized. This one is not necessary to be knowledgeable about the Plantagenets.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sara W

    Catherine of Valois (wife of Henry V, mother of Henry VI, later married Owen Tudor). Joan d' Arc. Eleanor of Gloucester (wife of Humphrey of Gloucester the "Lord Protector of the Realm" - brother of Henry V, uncle of Henry VI). Catherine of Valois (wife of Henry V, mother of Henry VI, later married Owen Tudor). Joan d' Arc. Eleanor of Gloucester (wife of Humphrey of Gloucester the "Lord Protector of the Realm" - brother of Henry V, uncle of Henry VI).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paola

    Good and quick read about three women who were very different. Plots, ambitions, treason. It was interesting to find out about Joan of Arc and Catherine queen consort to king Henry V, and mother of Henry the VI, this book is a prelude to the war of roses.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Simone

    Very interesting as it is an exact parallel to the time of the Lady of the Rivers, by Penelope Gregory, which I greatly enjoyed. Stormy times! I'm looking forward to reading all the Shakespeare history plays now to get a Tudor take on the period........ Very interesting as it is an exact parallel to the time of the Lady of the Rivers, by Penelope Gregory, which I greatly enjoyed. Stormy times! I'm looking forward to reading all the Shakespeare history plays now to get a Tudor take on the period........

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    12th in series

  20. 5 out of 5

    Roula Yasin

    joan of arc, eleanor cobham duchess of gloucester, katherine of valois

  21. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    One of the more interesting books in this series. Told from the perspective of the three most important women of the time. A bit simple but still very interesting.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Angela Joyce

    A wonderful trio of women-- one sweet and loving, one driven and devoted, another grasping and diabolical, all doomed. What a time to be alive and female in England and France!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Terri Edwards

  24. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

  25. 5 out of 5

    Betty

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gloria Simpson

  27. 5 out of 5

    Paula

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Hawley

  29. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sumi

  31. 5 out of 5

    Holly P

  32. 5 out of 5

    Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~*

  33. 5 out of 5

    Linda

  34. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

  35. 5 out of 5

    Pam

  36. 4 out of 5

    Sher

  37. 5 out of 5

    Ambrosia Sullivan

  38. 5 out of 5

    Tara

  39. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

  40. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

  41. 5 out of 5

    Hanan

  42. 5 out of 5

    Diane

  43. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Waranch

  44. 5 out of 5

    Deni

  45. 4 out of 5

    Lori

  46. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

  47. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Mailloux

  48. 4 out of 5

    Juli

  49. 4 out of 5

    Kellie

  50. 5 out of 5

    Shelly

  51. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

  52. 4 out of 5

    Lyall Dawson

  53. 5 out of 5

    Troybear

  54. 4 out of 5

    BookDB

  55. 5 out of 5

    Tina

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