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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham

The Traitor's Wife
Publisher:Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN: 1402217870
Pages: 512 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction/English
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge , RYOB Challenge, Romance Challenge, 20 in 2009 Challenge

 Synopsis from Publisher

In fourteenth-century England, young Eleanor de Clare, favorite niece of King Edward II, is delighted with her marriage to Hugh le Despenser and her appointment to Queen Isabella’s household as a lady-in-waiting. It soon becomes apparent, however, that Eleanor’s beloved uncle is not the king the nobles of the land—or his queen—expected.

Hugh’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. But loyalty has its price…
Moving from royal palaces to prison cells, from the battlefield to the bedroom, between hope and despair, treachery and fidelity, hatred and abiding love, The Traitor’s Wife is a tale of an extraordinary woman living in extraordinary times.

My Review:
The Traitor’s Wife is an extremely interesting and well-written novel about the marriage of Eleanor de Clare and Hugh le Despenser during the reign of King Edward II. This is one of the historical periods where my knowledge is sketchy at best. I knew that Hugh le Despenser was a historical “bad guy”, that Kind Edward II was a weak king, and that the time period was turbulent but this is where my knowledge ends. The events and happenings of the time period were a mystery to me before reading Higginbotham’s novel. This book read like a historical soap opera with one crazy event happening right after the other. And I have to tell you, I absolutely loved it.

From the very beginning of the novel, you can tell Higginbotham has painstakingly researched every fact and event in the novel. I really love it when you can tell that the author of a historical novel has researched the time period and subject matter they are writing about. I also thought that this benefitted the portrayal of the characters. The characters have depth and personality and induced some fairly strong emotional reactions to their behavior. I wanted to shake Eleanor for being so loyal to Hugh; I wanted to throttle Hugh, Edward and Isabella for being such prats. The Traitor’s Wife is also bolstered by wonderful writing and beautiful descriptions.

I did find, however, that I had trouble following the story because of the many events in the novel. I was able to follow much better when I read in sections. It is definitely a book that requires an investment of time and energy but it is definitely worthwhile. It will spark an interest in learning about these people and this time period. I would recommend The Traitor’s Wife to anyone interested in reading a dramatic historical fiction about English history.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.


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