Disappointingly, The Traitor s Wife begins with a rather slow kick and pace Although the novel is from the perspective of Eleanor le Despenser nee de Clare a myriad of characters and background is introduced too quickly, reducing the connection to Eleanor with the reader Although there may have been an early pressing need to set the political scene Higginbotham should have let the plot speak for itself Further, the initial portions of The Traitor s Wife have identity issues meaning that they are inconsistent in format One section is stylized like a scholarly work while then progressing into a fictional piece with the cycle repeating which can cause issues with the flow However, for those readers preferring strong historical accuracy and research which I do the meticulous research presented is interesting, satisfying, and accurate Eleanor s characterization in the early parts of The Traitor s Wife is neither likable nor hated because she lacks development into either realm She displayed no personal ambition except for sex, perhaps and was bland in her behavior The other characters comprisedpersonality and multiple layers to their qualities In fact, Higginbotham successfully elevated figures whom are usually portrayed in one stereotypical way such as Piers Gaveston to be composed of both positive and negative traits, providing a well rounded glimpse with arealistic viewpoint As The Traitor s Wife progresses, Higginbotham s writing begins to find its niche which strengthens the plot, pace, and versatility of the characters At this point, The Traitor s Wife becomes muchreadable Although many historical fiction novels arefiction than history, Higginbotham s novel is pleasantlyhistory than fiction The moments when Higginbotham does take historical liberties with facts or theories they are creative, believable, and not overly conceived allowing the reader to truly feel the story The Traitor s Wife opens up the analysis of Hugh Despenser in a muchevolved manner than any other work, causing the reader to rethink preconceived notions The second half of the novel also boosts Eleanor s character as she finally begins to mature and develop, resulting in a story which is muchalive and vivid, with a quickened pace Pleasingly, the novel feels authentic and never too modern.
There were some eye rolling moments in the second half such as artificial romantic and masturbation moments, allusions to future events Shakespeare s connection to Stratford on Avon , and Eleanor s constant giggling even within her adult years Personally, I found these to take away from the reading and break my bubble but this is me knit picking The last 100 pages of The Traitor s Wife slightly drag and some of the events feel cyclical and repetitive Despite my complaints, I did enjoy The Traitor s Wife especially in the second half Higginbotham s work is painstakingly researched, meaty, entertaining, and well conceived albeit with some execution issues Most importantly, it is quite accurate The Traitor s Wife is a good read for both history lovers and those new to the topic while also providing a welcoming introduction to Higginbotham s work I do look forward to exploring her other works.
Susan Higginbotham seems to have a propensity to write the stories of those much maligned figures from history and redressing the myths surrounding them And you know what, I like that I d much rather have an accurate portrayal than another tired round of dragging up every juicy salacious crumb of rumour just to make a novel interesting Because it s not interesting It s clich and boring and seems to me it does a disservice to the actual historical people Plus, it s always fun to read the story from the other side, from the perspective of a person who has been branded a villain by later histories The Traitor s Wife tells the story of Edward II s disastrous reign through the eyes of his second favourite, Hugh le Despenser, and his wife Eleanor de Clare, Edward II s niece I loved the attention to detail and accuracy of the setting, the detail of events As anyone who reads Susan s blog knows, she s impeccably thorough in her research Getting the small things right is less important than other points in writing a good novel like writing well rounded characters, a clever compelling plot, and so on but it just adds so much The tiny details weave an authentic world for those characters to move in and that plot to take place And, having read all of Susan s novels now, I can safely say that this is something she does tremendously well as an author.
However, I have to hold my hands up on this one and say you got me to Susan I haven t taken a particular interest in the life and times of Edward II, but I ve read a few non fiction histories and avidly follow the blog of Edward II expert Kathryn Warner, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen in The Traitor s Wife Without giving away any spoilers for people who haven t yet read the book, let s just say there were two events which had my eyebrows shooting up in surprise and saw me furiously thumbing to the author s note at the back to check that this was indeed right and Susan hadn t accidentally been scraping the dregs of the scandal barrel she hasn t phew.
One thing I ve found with Susan s books, and which I mentioned above, was that I love her characters because they re so subtle and so very human However, there was one point which I found odd in The Traitor s Wife, and that was the sheer level of Eleanor de Clare s gullibility It s rare, I feel, to come across someone who is quite that naive, and it s simply that I had some trouble connecting with and identifying with Eleanor because of that particular personality trait The Traitor s Wife is definitely an epic, I would say Which is surprising because from the outside it s doesn t look like the chunksters of Margaret George or the breeze block tomes of Jean Auel But it takes us from Edward II as a prince right through his kingship and past the point where Edward III has come into his own and taken control of his reign, and when I finished the book I sure felt like the story had taken me through so much, a really sweeping tide of history I must admit, The Traitor s Wife didn t quite evoke as much emotional connection or feeling from me as The Queen of Last Hopes did, and that s because I didn t quite identify with or root for Eleanor and Hugh as much as I did Margaret of Anjou and Henry Beaufort But highly recommended, as with all of Susan s books 9 out of 10 A Bewitching Tale Of Treachery And Betrayal Set In Fourteenth Century England, The Traitor S Wife Tells The Story Of Eleanor De Clare, A Young Woman Who Becomes Entangled In A Twisted Web Of Royal AffairsYoung Eleanor, Niece Of King Edward II, Is Delighted With Her Marriage To Hugh Le Despenser And Her Appointment As A Lady In Waiting To Queen Isabella S Household But Before Long, Eleanor Realizes That Her Beloved Uncle Edward Is Not The Mighty Ruler His Kingdom Or His Queen ExpectedHugh S Unbridled Ambition And His Intimate Relationship With Edward Arouse Widespread Resentment, Even As Eleanor Remains Fiercely Loyal To Her Husband And To Her King However, Her Allegiance May Cost Her DearlyFrom The Battlefield To The Bedchamber And Through Hope And Despair, Treachery And Fidelity, The Traitor S Wife Is A Tale Of An Extraordinary Woman Living In An Extraordinary Time Dull as all hell The plot, characters and situations are inherently interesting but the author s writing style drains all the life out of the proceedings This book is written like a straight history or a teleplay it is a 500 page list of events with no internal monologue from any characters and almost no discussion of feelings, motivations, reactions etc There is a great story here waiting to be freed from such bone dry prose Also, while the author can t help that so many of the characters have the same name, arbitrarily switching back and forth between using a character s name and royal title and back again made for a very frustrating reading experience.
The Traitor s Wife by Susan Higginbotham is a strong and pleasing read From the moment you start you are captivated by the strength of its characters The author s descriptions are so telling you can imagine even the tiniest detail of every page This is a book difficult to set down and one that is not easily forgotten.
This book had so much promise.
When I got this book I was flipping out with joy I started it right away and didn t even put it down.
Sadly I never finished it because when I reached page 400 I couldn t continue.
I was really pissed because the beginning was great and so much shit happened that ruined the book.
I was really confused The author made everyone Eleanor magically fall in love with her Seriously, even the gay ones Like the author kept dropping hints about some kind of secret love between King Edward and Eleanor Like when one of the maids told the royal family of Gaveston s abduction by the Black Dog of Arden The maid was wondering why Eleanor was comforting and touching him in an intimate way when his wife was like ten feet away Idk, like she would write how they acted so lovingly and intimately and that he would give her grand jewlery It really confused me because Edward was with Gaveston.
I was confused Because the author practically made Edward II in love with Eleanor even though he was with Gaveston and Isabella.
The thing that pissed me off was that everyone around Eleanor stated how smart and clever she was But when push came to shove, she acted like a dumb shit Eleanor also really annoying She kept running back to Hugh when he didn t deserve it Love can only go so far I hate how the characters deemed Eleanor as nontraditional The only non graditional thing she did was when she was with Hugh because he told her to it and when she confronted the Edward of Lancaster.
Eleanor wasn t the only shitty developed story I really wanted to take a brass bucket and smash it against King Edward II s face Holy shit, why is it so hard for him to act like a freaking KING He literaly cried throughout the whole book Don t even get me started on Hugh.
The only character who was pleasantly developed was Queen Isabella She s known has a heartless bitch and he characterization was spot on in the book.
The book was also REALLY long At page 200ish I had to force myself to try and finish the book Seriously though, there were TOO many characters The character index was like 5 pages long filled with characters It was very confusing.
I just finished the book and I m so pissed at the book because it was such a let down One day I ll finish the remaining 99 pagesThere were some great things, though The story line was honestly great The historical references were great and the imagery was vivid and magical I was really let down So if you like subpar writing and a really annoying protagonist then read it.
5 starsThis book was incredibly well researched Before reading it, I knew nothing of the reigns of Edwards I, II and III, and as I was reading, I was sure a lot of it was made up by the author there was so much plotting, scheming, betrayal, greed, power, adultery, manipulation, revenge, murder and general downright crazy, that it could dwarf even the maddest American daytime soap But no, almost all of this book is true As a regular Tudor and War of the Roses reader, I m not shocked by the treachery and brutality of the times, but I am surprised that these early Plantagenets aren t as well known as their descendants they have just as gripping a story to tell.
I do have a few niggles with this book though At times, it reads like a dry history lecture, while at others, it felt very simplistic, particularly in the conversations, where characters overused the name of the person they were speaking to blah blah, Hugh blah blah, Eleanor blah blah, Hugh blah blah, Eleanor, etc etc, all on the same page it drove me crackers A better edit could have taken out fifty or so pages, and still leave the story complete.
The good outweighed the niggles though, and I ll go on to read it s sequal Hugh and Bess A Love Story, although I m already braced for the endless blah blah, Hugh blah blah, Bess conversations This is a fascinating tale of treachery and intrigue, focusing on the life of Eleanor De Clare who married Hugh le Despenser Hugh s ambitions embroil him in the life of Edward II of England and eventually lead to his downfall As several reviewers have already summed up the story, I need not recap it again This is a complicated tale, with many characters with the same names so you do have to pay close attention, although the author does provide a list of characters at the front of the book This is not a period of English history I have read before and I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in Eleanor s tale Side note, having recently read Nigel Tranter s The Bruce Trilogy it was an extra treat seeing that part of the story from the English perspective Although I found Eleanor to be an engaging topic, I like other reviewers found her to be a tad bit too perfect I mean really she should have known what Hugh was up to Or maybe not, we ll never know All in all a very enjoyable read and one I would recommend for any lover of historical fiction or those interested in this time period.
I was so eager to dig in and begin this book, especially with the endorsements of friends and a bit of help from the author herself helping me to choose which book of hers to start with I was beyond frustrated that it took me two months to read Let me explain, it wasn t the fault of the book but life that got in the way I tried to read a few pages here and there but you can t do that with this book You need, and want, to have time to spend with Eleanor de Clare, her family and their lives, even then you will wantThe people and writing demand your undivided attention, so I had to wait Was it worth the wait to visit Edward II s court and the people he loved, his favorite niece Eleanor de Clare, Piers Gaveston and Hugh le Despenser, the Younger Was it worth the wait to see all the machinations and manipulations for power, bed hopping, politics, imprisonment, coups, battles, piracy, even a three year pregnancy Simply put, yes We enter a world that existed about 700 years ago Before you realize it, the 21st century has slipped away and there is suddenly no distinction between the present and past.
Wedding of Edward II and IsabellaThis novel covers the years 1306 to 1337, primarily centered on Eleanor de Clare, granddaughter of Edward I, niece to Edward II, wife of Hugh le Despenser the younger and William la Zouche In those 31 years, it was incredible what Eleanor lived through personally, never mind what happened around her She s a proper wife, but happy to explore the joys of her sexuality even if it means dealing with the religious guilt of doing so, she loves completely but is blind to her husband s wrongdoings, she s an heiress, a prisoner and a loving mother A thief, a spy and a whore And yet when I was young I used to be regarded as quite priggish Eleanor speaking of herself before her proctor.
The author has this casual way of bluntly and quickly telling the reader what happened the Battle of Bannock Burn or someone s death, and then would follow this up by showing the reader how it all came to be Painful and emotional events, like the capture and deaths of Edward II s favorites, are handled first with shock, almost a brutal frankness, followed with a horror and sadness, and finally acceptance Don t, it d be a pleasure to have one generation of Dispensers with their heads intact Edward, don t get yourself caught up in an endless cycle of hate It ll waste you Eleanor s eldest son Hugh to his brother Edward Susan Higginbotham provides a character list, broken down by family and title, to help keep everyone straight during a time when naming children after the royal family or close relations was the norm I admit I needed to refer to that list many times, otherwise all the surnames, first names and titles would be a jumbled mess With the marriages and deaths, making everyone related a genealogical chart would look like a spiders web, which in many ways seems all too appropriate I would have liked a map to help me keep track of the properties, royal progresses and events I can see where these names and things may seem daunting for some but don t let any of that discourage you.
This is a book for adults with sexual situations that may not be comfortable for everyone, same sex, and one scene of familial relations Even though these scenes are tastefully handled and sparingly used, I wanted to mention them for those sensitive to these or looking for a clean read Everybody tells me how beautiful she is I can see it But beauty is like a tapestry What hangs well in one room may simply not in another Sometimes I wonder if she was not hung in the wrong room Edward II talking to Eleanor about Queen Isabella When you finish this book, you will not want to leave these people and events behind This was my first book about Edward II but it won t be my last There are so many I want to knowabout, Queen Isabella, Zouche, Gaveston, Edward III and Eleanor s eldest son Hugh Fortunately, Higginbotham s next book, Hugh and Bess carries on Hugh s story and her web site has a nice list of historical fiction covering Edward II and his people In her afterword, Susan explained the historically accurate aspects and explained her choice or direction for those events still debated today I appreciate when an author goes to these lengths it shows an appreciation for their reader.
Sit back and get ready for a transformative experience I hope you enjoy the journey and education as much as I did, just be prepared to never want to leave.
Wowmy first five star book of the year and it was a free, relatively unheard of book that I was introduced to through my Kindle.
and I loved it, not only did it introduce a entire of host of characters in a new dynasty equally as fascinating as the Tudors but seamlessly told the tale of an extrodinary woman, her life,loves against the backdrop of thirteenth century England constantly at war with Scotland and itself.
This book was longer and waydetailed than I expected and I thoroughly enjoyed the plot twists, descriptions, and changing locations, England with its royalty and estates and titles sounds so fabulous.
So the story begins with young Eleanor, neice to the King, and extremely well off and her arranged marriage to Hugh le Despenser, a man revered in history for his brutal death.
Eleanor and Hugh would remain married for over twenty years and bear numerous children and not one year of their life was uneventful This book explores politics, friends, sexuality, marriage, childbearing and rearing and betrayal at its ugliest forms I want so much to delve into one of the many fateful circumstances of her life but do not want to spoil for others just know it is a superb read to keep you well entertained and fascinated by King Edward, Isabella, Mortimer, Hugh Le Despenser, Gaveston and of course the lusty and enchanting Eleanor Am looking forward to her next book Hugh and Bess as their children have their chance to tell their fascinating history.