Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham

THE TRAITOR'S WIFE: A NOVEL OF THE REIGN OF EDWARD II, Susan Higginbotham, iUniverse Inc., 2005, $15.00 USD, paperback, 492 pages, ISBN: 978-0595359592.

In an enduring tale, filled with intrigue and greed, love and lust, Susan Higginbotham enthralls the reader with her work entitled, The Traitor’s Wife: A Novel of the Reign of Edward II. Her heroine Eleanor de Clare, granddaughter of England’s first King Edward, is a remarkable woman who lived in tumultuous times.

Teen-aged Eleanor weds Hugh le Despenser, a minor noble who is only a few years older than her. They share a happy beginning and have several children together. Her pride is a perfect match for his ambition. Throughout their lives, Hugh’s incessant scheming endangers their future. In a bold bid for power, he becomes the lover of the English king Edward II, his wife’s uncle. Eleanor seems a pawn in the presence of her willful uncle, and her rakish husband. But in her interactions with England’s long-suffering and vengeful queen, her power-hungry sisters and her numerous detractors, Eleanor’s inner strength shines through.

When her husband’s maneuvers lead to a tragic end for the Despensers and the royal family, Eleanor’s fortitude and wisdom protects her young children. While she cannot prevent the deaths of her husband and the king, or the forced veiling of her daughters as nuns, she secures the best possible future. With daring and boldness akin to her husband, she thwarts the enemies who seek to destroy her. She also finds love again and enjoys a happy home at the end of her days.

From the towering majesty of medieval English castles, to the wild and romantic Welsh countryside, Ms. Higginbotham takes her readers on an engrossing journey to the past. Her detailed accounts of the period, a myriad of characters and the settings are well-researched and engaging. Her heroine is an inspiration, proving that medieval women were not wilting wallflowers. Eleanor de Clare loved passionately and loyally but she fought against all odds to protect her family. This book is a must-read for all those who love authentic medieval tales. I highly recommend The Traitor’s Wife.

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