Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book Review: The Queen of Last Hopes by Susan Higginbotham

The Queen of Last Hopes by Susan Higginbotham
Publish Date: January 2010
Format: Paperback pp


Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"A man other than my husband sits on England's throne today.

What would happen if this king suddenly went mad? What would his queen do? Would she make the same mistakes I did, or would she learn from mine?

Margaret of Anjou, queen of England, cannot give up on her husband-even when he slips into insanity. And as mother to the House of Lancaster's last hope, she cannot give up on her son-even when England turns against them. This gripping tale of a queen forced to stand strong in the face of overwhelming odds is at its heart a tender tale of love.

Award-winning author Susan Higginbotham will once again ask readers to question everything they know about right and wrong, compassion and hope, duty to one's country and the desire of one's own heart."


My Review:
When it comes to the Wars of the Roses, there are always a couple questions that come to mind: are you of a Yorkist or a Lancasterian opinion? Did Richard III kill the princes in the tower? Was Richard III a corrupt and merciless man? These questions are often the focus of many historical novels set during this time period, and it is not very often that a book is written with an emphasis of how it all began. The Queen of Last Hopes begins with Margaret of Anjou preparing to leave for England, where she will become the Queen of King Henry VI. Margaret is just 15 when she sets sail for England, and she is full of hope and determination to bring peace to the English and French people. Unfortunately, she quickly learns that the her striving to enter the political world, no matter how good her intentions might be, only leads to bitterness from the English people and slander against her name. Despite these unsavory results, Margaret is no less determined in defending her crown when the House of York tries to dethrone her husband and take away her sons birthright.

Being of a Yorkist opinion myself, I was quite surprised by how well Hgginbotham made me soften to the Lancasterian cause. Told from a first person perspective, Margaret becomes more than just a strong willed and "she-wolf" character, instead she becomes a woman desperate for peace, deeply in love, and above all, a protective mother. It was this method of writing that really made me feel a strong connection to those who fought for the House of Lancaster. Higginbotham also did a wonderful job of creating a lovable character out of King Henry VI. Of course Henry was still a weak king and on the verge of madness, but he was also a loving husband and a man who knew he didn't live up to his predecessors reign, which resulted in my heart going out to his plight and creating a better opinion of the Lancasters.

The Queen of Last Hopes is written in great historical detail, and delivers an exceptional telling of one of the most controversial time periods in history. With subtle wit, heart wrenching events and life-like characters, you will finish the novel only wanting more of this talented author.


FTC: I received this book from the publisher. As always, these are my own honest opinions.


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