Tuesday 18 January 2011

Review: The Queen of Last Hopes - Susan Higginbotham

Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
Published: Jan 2011 Sourcebooks Landmark

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.

The War of the Roses, ok I will do my best. Margaret of Anjou was married to Henry VI from the house of Lancaster. Together they had a son Edward. Henry was mad, other people wanted power because they all descended from the same king. Warwick, the king-maker plotted with the Duke of York, and what follows is battles, the king being captured, Margaret plotting for her husband and son, more battles, people turning sides etc etc. King Edward IV. Exile, plotting, and then I will not even go into the whole plotting inside the York camp and when they kill each other.

My thoughts:
This was my second Higginbotham book and I do enjoy her books. They are so rich in history, and so full of detail. Sure I was lost a bit in the beginning. How could I not be, all these people plotting were cousins, so cousin killing cousin, cousin marrying cousin, brother killing brother. Always switching sides, but all the major players are listed in the book so it felt good to go and have a look at that. The War of the Roses will always be one big mess, but Higginbotham makes a good job explaining it all, and I do think I got it now.

I have read other books, yes more Yorkist books, so I never thought much about Margaret. But she was so young, and her husband went mad so early. The people hated her and said that her son was not the kings. I felt really sorry for her because her whole world just crumbled under her. I also saw her with new eyes, because those who win write the history and she has not been looked upon with gentle eyes. But then the women are always the weak spot and get all the blame.

I even turned into a Lancastrian, they had the right to rule. Still a mad king is not a good king, so I am a bit of a Yorkist there. But as usual, Warwick is an evil man, and I just have to like Edward IV. I also have to mention Henry Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, I even had a bit of a crush on him, and I did like that Higginbotham took some creative freedom and played a bit with him.

A great book, you are there, you are on the side of the House of Lancaster and look at things from their point of view. Margaret is the main character, but instead of letting her tell it all, there are some other POVs, Somerset among others. And I did like that, because then you really were on all those battle fields.

Recommendation and final thoughts:
I do recommend her books to all historical fiction fans, and the rest of you too. They are just so good, and I just become more and more interested in The War of the Roses. A messy period in time turns into one great story.

Reason for reading:
I really enjoyed her last book, The Stolen Crown (Go York ;)



  1. I'm a fan of the author so this is going on my tbr list. Nice review!

  2. i wasn't really familiar with the war of the roses until i read philippa gregory's books about the era. Great review!

  3. Not a time period I'm familiar with and it just sounds so confusing.

  4. I also like the writing of the author so this is now on my TBR

  5. I agree with you the cover is meh but the story within sounds fab - you've sold me!

  6. Sounds like an interesting view of that time period. Haven't read that much historical fiction. Perhaps I need to correct this... :)

  7. Cover is insipid (it should be bloody and ugly and horrible) but the book is not - thanks for a great review!

  8. Mary
    I have her two other books too, I can't wait to read those :)

    I really enjoyed those too, they were the ones that made em like Edward ;)

    The whole war is not confusing, it's more who all the other nobles are. But you pick it up

    I am sure you will like this one too then

  9. Amused
    The cover could have been more, but the story, oh so amazing! Worth reading for sure

    I do love historical fiction so I say a big yes for you to explore more of the genre

    What, nah, I do not want horrible and bloody. I would have been fine with a better pic of a woman.
    But anyway, read her works

  10. Can't wait to read this! I've always been more Yorkist so I'm curious how this will affect my view ;)
    I've liked the previous covers but not fan of this one...

  11. I'm looking forward to this one. Must admit I've worn the red rose since I was 16 (a long time ago)and fell madly in love with John of Gaunt when I read Katherine.

    Great review!

  12. Elysium
    I have been all about York for a year now, and then I read this book and cursed those nasty sons of York. Lol, so yes read it ;)

    I have always meant to read that book, I really should now and see what that lovestory was all about

  13. I like this author also, I always enjoy a good historical.
    great review!

  14. I have a copy to get to soon this month and it will be my first experience with this author...looking forward to it!

  15. Sounds like fun! I like how you say it puts you in the Lancaster perspective. Neat!

  16. Naida
    She does have a way of writing :)

    *waves back*
    Hiya Chris

    I hope you like it, don't let the POV changing scare you, just read on and enjoy :)

    She sure turned me towards their cause, lol. No wonder people changed side all the time there

  17. Hmmm..I used to read a lot of historical fiction...maybe I will pick it back up one day ;p

  18. Mandi
    I hope you do pick it up one day :) It is sure something else

  19. I want to read more books about the different sides of the War of the Roses. I can't manage to "pick a side". I've been tending to lean toward the Lancaster side more often then not. However, after reading 'Queen By Right' I understand more of where they are coming from too. Great review! Sounds like a book I will HAVE to read...I want to learn more about M of Anjou.



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