Thursday, October 6, 2011
The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham....
This book opens as 13-year-old Eleanor de Clare, niece of King Edward II, prepares to marry Hugh le Despenser. It chronicles her adventures (and misadventures) as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Isabella in the early 1300's and follows her through the course of her life.
It was a close race as to whether I liked the writing style or the thorough research in this book. It was a free download for my Kindle (my favorite kind of book - free!), and I have to confess that I wasn't expecting a whole lot. I was pleasantly surprised when I found the writing fresh and the plot engaging. My eyes did glaze over a couple of times with the number of Eleanors, Edwards, Hughs, and Joans, and I didn't EVEN begin to understand the connections among dukes, earls, lords, ladies, and a partridge in a pear tree.
But the characters were presented as very REAL, allowing readers to see their negative attributes along with their positive ones. I found that I didn't like a character because he or she was perfect; I liked him or her in spite of the imperfections. Just like real life. Imagine that!
I'm almost afraid to admit this in print, but I always read EVERYTHING in a book. Including the author's acknowledgements at the end. Susan Higginbotham was very straightforward about which parts of her book were based on solid research and which parts she fictionalized. She even explained WHY and HOW she added some fictional details, and I appreciated her honesty.
Some reviewers (I never read reviews until after I have finished a book) found this book tedious, but I became engrossed in it and couldn't put it down. It may be the best free book I've ever read, and I can't wait to read Hugh and Bess.