Well, I feel a bit like I've really accomplished something this week, when all I've really done is listened to all eighteen CDs of Alison Weir's biography Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultery, and Murder in Medieval England. I've been working on it for a month. If I'm this tired after listening to it, I can only imagine how tired Weir must have been after writing it!
I've been reading enough English history that I'm starting to feel the real story in British history has been the women. Seems like most of the men Kings kept themselves pretty busy with mistresses (male and female), tournaments, and fighting battles on and off, while Queens, like Eleanor of Aquitaine and Isabella, were negotiating peace treaties, pulling political strings, and oh yeah, having all the babies. Just think about it; the sheer mass of ruling time, particularly during the past few centuries, for one thing, has been all girl: Elizabeth II and Victoria (not to mention, a bit further back, Elizabeth 1). Pretty wild stuff.
The book itself? Pretty good, but more suited for listening to than reading. Weir's always a bit detailed for me (but then,I always was a lazy student, so that makes sense) but it's perfect to listen to while washing the dishes. She started a chapter, I got the gist, I daydreamed for a while and washed a couple of plates, and when I came back to reality chances were pretty good that she was still on the same story so I didn't feel like I'd missed much. All in all I'd recommend it simply because it did give me the impression that Isabella was one formidable woman (you don't just overthrow your husband, the King, and set your son up in his place if you're the retiring sort, nor do you earn the nickname the "She-Wolf of France").
And, as a special (and coincidental) bonus fun fact: Isabella died 650 years ago today, on August 22, 1358. Weird, huh?