Customer Reviews for

Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou

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  • Posted December 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Unstoppable Reading!

    First of all I have to confess that Susan Higginbotham's books are among my favorites in historical fiction. I am not associated with either the author or the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark. I am just a happy reader!

    This book follows the story of Margaret of Anjou - also known as the "mother" of the house of Lancaster- and her marriage to King Henry VI who, after 8 years of marriage descended into the oblivion of madness and religious obsession- leaving the rule of his country to Margaret . Margaret in turn protected the interests of her son, Edward of Lancaster and refused to accede to the claims of the Yorkist faction. Margaret's fight to win the rights of her son and the Lancaster line led to her becoming a vilified woman during her life and history has not been any kinder.

    Susan Higginbotham's novel brings the life of this rare, female ruler, into focus and sheds a kinder light on the history of this strong woman. Although the outcome of her life still brings to mind a domineering, and inflexible woman, this book provides us with a sense of the back story to Margaret's fierce determination - even in the face of defeat. King Henry is portrayed as religious devotee and his mental frailty paints a portrait of a sensitive man not strong enough to be King. Edward is a pliable youth whose life is cut terribly short through his mother's staunch fight to preserve the House of Lancaster at all costs.

    As with all of her books, Susan Higginbotham's research is impeccable. Her grasp of the the characters and their place in history is remarkable. British historical figures, with their many titles and names, can read like a quagmire at times. I have never been able to sort them all out but Ms. Higginbotham grasps all of the nuance, names and titles and makes them easy to follow though the narrative.

    In this book, rather than the dominatrix of Britain, Margaret of Anjou is portrayed as good - almost too nice. Most likely the reality of her character probably lies somewhere between vilification and saint hood. I thoroughly enjoyed this book - as I have all of Susan Higginbotham's work. I couldn't put it down. It should have wide appeal to anyone who loves historical fiction - especially British historical fiction!

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Compelling Look At A Little-Known Queen

    In The Queen Of Last Hopes, Susan Higginbotham traces the life and marriage of Margaret Of Anjou. She leaves her French home at the age of fourteen to marry Henry VI. The book covers their lives from 1444 to 1482, when Margaret dies. Her life went from that of an honored queen, welcomed by the London townspeople and loved by all, to one in exile, alone and reviled by the English people. What caused such a life change?

    After eight years of marriage, Henry, never a strong man, went "mad". Mad is the description that was given to him, and the descriptions seem to describe a catatonic state that lasted for a year and a half. During that time, Margaret finally gave birth to their only child, a son, Edward. Those who follow history know that power hates a vacuum, and Henry's illness started the change of events that led to the war between the House of Lancaster (Henry) and the House of York (Edward). The fight for the crown and the ability to rule England tore the country apart for years, dividing men who had served on the battlefields as brothers, severing families and spreading death and destruction for decades. Margaret spent years as the power behind the throne, advising Henry and finding men and money to fuel their attempts to regain the throne once it was lost.

    One of Higginbotham's strengths is taking the reader into this world and letting them feel what day to day life was like. The fate of women was not a pretty one. Used as pawns in political powerplays in their marriages, once married they were to do nothing but produce babies. Their husbands, sons, brothers, fathers and uncles were also pawns as they fought in wars and political maneuvers. One day a family might be rich and powerful; the next, having chosen the wrong side in a powerplay, impoverished and subject to long years of imprisonment or even death by beheading or other barbarous methods. Any woman who dared to step outside this stricture was subject to rumours and disgust.

    This book is recommended for readers of historical fiction. It really filled in a gap in my knowledge of this period, and may do so for many other readers. Margaret's strength and resourcefulness is now being reevaluated as the stigma of being a strong woman is being examined by historians. The reader will enjoy Higganbotham's research and ability to bring an era and its characters to life.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2014

    LoudBriar & WebSpruce

    [Okie dokie. Brb. Gonna do bio?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2014

    Stormheart & Thunderclaw

    Stormheart goes to sleep while Thunderclaw sits next to her.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2013

    Okay

    Decent

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  • Posted August 3, 2013

    Excellent Read!

    I love Susan Higginbotham, and this book does not disappoint. It is a fascinating read about a little known part of English history - the rule of Henry VI and his queen, Marguerite d'Anjou. As usual, I found Ms. Higginbotham an absorbing read, and I learned a lot about the events of the War of the Roses.

    For lovers of "real" historical fiction (stories about actual historical figures, not just stories set in a particular time period), this is a must read.

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