Monday, January 31, 2011
Review: The Queen of Last Hopes by Susan Higginbotham
Source: ARC from Publisher
Category: Historical Fiction
Margaret of Anjou was betrothed to Henry VI at the age of fourteen, a match that was suppose to bring stability and peace between the much rivalled England and France. Her husband-to-be, Henry was throned as an infant, and very different from his father. While his father was a military hero, Henry VI yearned for peace., he believed that Margaret would bring him what he wanted. A young Margaret was sent off alone, and had to endure a long, arduous boat trip, a trip that left her indisposed and consoled by strangers. To make matters worst, her parents left her a measly, embarrassing dowry. Margaret was scared, and unsure of her outcome. When Margaret finally reaches England, she is relieved to meet her patient, loving, and kind husband. Her dowry is forgotten, the King showers her with gifts and life is looking bright. Shortly after her coronation Queen Margaret’s family have their own ultimatums, and Margaret must deliver. Her future is threatened, Margaret is pulled between the love of her husband, and the loyalty to her family. When she has issues producing an heir, the people of England remain cold, the longer she advances without becoming pregnant, the people become more hostile and suspicious. Margaret begins to lose hope, Henry stands patient and comforting. King Henry, thought to be a weak King, trusting too easily and questioning very little. His family seems to all have their own interests at stake, and see a thorn that may soon become vacant. When Margaret bores a son, she is elated but her happiness is soon splintered when she finds out her husband is not lucid. Henry’s mental state is not stable, and he recognizes none. Margaret must fight for the rights of her husband and child. The future of England becomes uncertain.
My description does not do this book justice. Susan Higginbotham’s “The Queen of Last Hopes” is filled with rich detail, and memorable characters. Much of the novel is narrated by Margaret, with a few other characters points of view included. I did not struggle with the point of views, I found the flow of the novel very easy to read. This was very important to me, because often I find the flow of historical fiction novels difficult. At times I was confused by all the characters but this was not a big issue, it’s something I expect from Historical Fiction. This was my first Susan Higginbotham’s read, and I can’t wait to pick up “The Traitor’s Wife.” I really love her style. I found it so refreshing to read a story about a Queen who truly loves her King. So many historical fiction reads that I’ve read lately deal with hostile King and Queen relationships. This is one that historical fiction lovers will love.