Review: On the Trail of the Yorks

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By Tina Tsironis

 

In her previous book, The World of Richard III, author Kristie Dean focused squarely on the controversial last king of the House of York. In her new work, On the Trail of the Yorks, Dean zeroes in on the other fascinating members of the York family.

Ensuring that each member of the dynasty isn’t relegated to mere bit-player status, Dean devotes chapters and heady paragraphs to the family members and their lives, which are as equally enthralling as they are tragic.

The unique style of The World of Richard III is replicated here. Part travel guide, part historical non-fiction, On the Trail of the Yorks intriguingly transposes past and present.

Dean walks her readers through the current and past states of a number of historical sites associated with the House of York and its members. Whether the site is directly associated to the Yorks, as is perhaps Middleham Castle, where Richard III’s son Edward was delivered, or indirectly associated, as is Grafton Regis, the tiny village where first York King Edward IV’s future queen Elizabeth Woodville was born, Dean ensures that readers are simultaneously placed directly amongst the action of the past and the often strikingly dissimilar present.

Readers are also provided with informational excerpts about the House of York written by writers of previous eras. Including these writings serves to further link the past with the present, as though these writers have passed the historical baton onto Dean, ensuring that she keeps the story of the Yorks alive.

Throughout the work, Dean often speculates on the thoughts and actions of the York characters. While this lends to yet another breath of intrigue, at times these speculations err towards the slightly unrealistic. At other times, however, they simply serve to add context and depth to a group of people who are so well known that they often seem incredibly far removed from our reality.

Travellers are treated to a wealth of helpful advice and information regarding the current state of the historical sites. From information about the method of transport required to reach a site, to warnings about whether a site is dangerous to walk through, Dean has it covered. Her knowledge, thorough research and sheer enthusiasm for all things York radiate beautifully through the pages of On the Trail of the Yorks.

British history and travel buffs alike will enjoy and benefit greatly from Dean’s engrossingly informative historical travel guide.

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