Friday, February 18, 2011

Guest Post and Review: The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou by Susan Higginbotham

I am excited to have Susan Higginbotham with us today. Susan is one of the finest historical fiction authors, her passion & meticulous research combines to create unforgettable stories! Please give a warm welcome to Susan as she explains why there continues to be a fascination with British Monarchy from centuries ago.

I am not a celebrity watcher. The only time I look at People magazine is when I’m stuck in a waiting room with nothing to read, and since I almost always have a paperback or my Kindle tucked in my purse, that hardly ever happens.

But dead celebrities—or at least dead British royal celebrities—are a different matter altogether. I never tire of them, and my bookshelves are ample testimony to that. Even if I didn’t have the excuse of needing to buy books for research (which, incidentally is such a good excuse, I still think I’m putting one over someone), I’d probably still read everything I can about British royalty, particularly the Plantagenets and the Tudors.

What is it that fascinates me—and so many others—about these people? A lot of it, I suppose, comes from living in the United States, where of course we don’t have any home-grown royals. There’s also the glamour, the allure of reading about a lifestyle where a staff took care of all of the dull minutiae of daily life and where a single garment could feed, house, and cloth a laborer for years.

But that doesn’t really satisfactorily explain my all-consuming interest in these long-dead men and women. After all, the modern-day rich and famous have a lot of glamour in their daily lives as well—and they don’t interest me at all. Nor do living royals for the most part, though I’ll certainly be watching this spring’s royal wedding.

No, for me, credit has to go where credit is due—to the English king and queens themselves, each a distinct individual. There are the strong and the weak kings, the mad kings and the coldly calculating kings. There are the reigning queens, two of whom, Elizabeth I and Victoria, gave their name to an entire era. There are the royal consorts, the royal relations, the royal favorites, some living quietly in the shadows, some as powerful—or more so--than the king himself. There are the men and women who served these monarchs in war and in peace. Some came to glory though their service; some paid for their loyalty with their own lives. And did I mention the royal mistresses?

With this cast of characters, there are so many stories that remain untold, and so many stories that await a fresh retelling. It’s no wonder, then, that as a reader—and as a writer—I just can’t get enough of them.

About the book:
It would be called the Wars of the Roses, but it all began with one woman's fury...

Margaret of Anjou, Queen of England, cannot give up on her husband-even when he goes insane. And as mother to the House of Lancaster's last hope, she cannot give up on her son-even when all England turns against him. This gripping tale of a queen is at its heart a tender tale of love: passionate, for her husband, and motherly, for her only son.

My Rating: 4 / 5

My Thoughts:
Told in first person narrative, Margaret of Anjou comes alive in The Queen of Last Hopes. Susan has also included a few chapters told from the perspective of other Lancansters (William de la Pole, Henry Beaufort, her son Edward and Henry VI) which threw me off the first time but was easy to follow along. Over the years, Margaret has been villianized, but Susan writes her story from a different point of view. Margaret is a daughter, a wife, a mother, she is portrayed in a more sympathetic tone. There were times I thought she appeared too nice, but it was great to see Margaret painted in this new light, Lancastrian rather then the pro-Yorkist propaganda. If you follow the War of the Roses, this book may cause you to question which side you are on! Be forewarned, this is an emotional story, you're going to need kleenex close by.


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