"She-wolf" is what Shakespeare called Margaret of Anjou (1430-1482), who wielded power over England in the vacum created by the infirmities of her husband, Henry VI. In this superb royal history, Helen Castor chronicles the life of Margaret and other formidable queens who paved the way for the rule of Elizabeth I.

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…