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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 8 Feb 2010
By 
Ga Bronsdon - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Traitor's Wife (Paperback)
I am a great fan of the likes of sharon penman, elizabeth chadwick and julie garwood and would add this author to the list. I have read many books on edward 1 and 111 but this is the first fiction about edward 11 that i have read and ..... I loved it. as the other reviews state it is primarily about Eleanor Despenser, neice of edward 11 and wife of one his favorites - Hugh. I loved the factual side of the book and reading more about the daughters of edward I and how their childrens lives came into this book and I loved hearing and reading more about the other great families of the time. I was surprised at how much I 'liked and sympathised' with edward ii and to some degree Isabelle. I have already ordered the follow up 'Hugh and Bess' about Hugh and Eleandor's eldest son.
well written in good plain english and with enough detail of the time to really enjoy the book
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid First Outing for Higginbotham, 13 Sep 2007
By 
Misfit (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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This is a fascinating tale of treachery and intrigue, focusing on the life of Eleanor De Clare who married Hugh le Despenser. Hugh's ambitions embroil him in the life and love of Edward II of England which eventually leads to his downfall and Eleanore must pick up the pieces and rebuild the lives of herself and her children.

This is a complicated tale, with many characters with the same names so you do have to pay close attention, although the author does provide a list of characters at the front of the book. This is not a period of English history I have read before and I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in Eleanor's tale. Side note, having recently read Nigel Tranter's The Bruce Trilogy it was an extra treat seeing that part of the story from the English perspective.

Although I found Eleanor to be an engaging topic, I found her to be a tad bit too perfect -- I mean really she should have known what Hugh was up to! Or maybe not, we'll never know. All in all a very enjoyable read and one I would recommend for any lover of historical fiction or those interested in this time period.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Traitor's Wife, 27 July 2013
By 
Isis (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Susan Higginbotham seems to have a propensity to write the stories of those much maligned figures from history and redressing the myths surrounding them. And you know what, I like that. I'd much rather have an accurate portrayal than another tired round of dragging up every juicy salacious crumb of rumour just to make a novel interesting. Because it's not interesting. It's cliché and boring and seems to me it does a disservice to the actual historical people. Plus, it's always fun to read the story from the other side, from the perspective of a person who has been branded a villain by later histories.

The Traitor's Wife tells the story of Edward II's disastrous reign through the eyes of his second favourite, Hugh le Despenser, and his wife Eleanor de Clare, Edward II's niece. I loved the attention to detail and accuracy of the setting, the detail of events. The author is impeccably thorough in her research. Getting the small things right is less important than other points in writing a good novel - like writing well-rounded characters, a clever compelling plot, and so on - but it just adds so much. The tiny details weave an authentic world for those characters to move in and that plot to take place. And, having read all of Higginbotham's novels now, I can safely say that this is something she does tremendously well as an author.

One thing I've found with Susan Higginbotham's books, and which I mentioned above, was that I love her characters because they're so subtle and so very human. However, there was one point which I found odd in The Traitor's Wife, and that was the sheer level of Eleanor de Clare's gullibility. It's rare, I feel, to come across someone who is quite that naive, and it's simply that I had some trouble connecting with and identifying with Eleanor because of that particular personality trait.

The Traitor's Wife is definitely an epic, I would say. Which is surprising because from the outside it's doesn't look like the chunksters of Margaret George or the breeze-block tomes of Jean Auel. But it takes us from Edward II as a prince right through his kingship and past the point where Edward III has come into his own and taken control of his reign, and when I finished the book I sure felt like the story had taken me through so much, a really sweeping tide of history. I must admit, The Traitor's Wife didn't quite evoke as much emotional connection or feeling from me as The Queen of Last Hopes did, but still very enjoyable.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and beautifully written, 28 Oct 2008
By 
Rachel (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
I came to this novel with some, but not extensive, knowledge of Edward II's less-than-impressive and ultimately tragic reign, and with the stereotypical picture of Edward as ineffectual and the two Hugh le Despensers as rapacious, manipulative megalomaniacs. It was therefore refreshing to read a novel that gives a more balanced perspective than say, "Braveheart," and shows Edward, Isabella, Gaveston (although his role in the novel is relatively limited, this being predominantly the Despensers' story), and the Despensers, including Eleanor herself, as fundamentally human and frequently sympathetic.

In "The Traitor's Wife," Susan Higginbotham presents well-rounded, three-dimensional portraits of the main protagonists: their positive qualities are highlighted, while their flaws are nonetheless acknowledged. The characters are not always likeable, but it is possible to understand, if not always empathise with, their actions. This is what makes the novel so satisfying. What I loved about the book was its focus on the personalities, as distinct from too many other novels where one gets an exhaustive description of protagonists' gowns and tunics, but little in the way of character development.

The only person who seemed irredeemably evil was Roger Mortimer: it was difficult to see what Isabella would have seen in him. That said, his characterisation, in the context of the events, was plausible; by the time he and Isabella took power and deposed Edward, it had clearly gone to his head. It was particularly refreshing to see a portrayal of Isabella that did not reduce her to "innocent victim," as some writers have sought to do. Isabella was a strong, intelligent and ruthless woman - she should be held responsible just as much for her unsavoury and callous actions as for any good deeds she did.

The novel is beautifully written and gripping, and Eleanor le Despenser's fascinating and eventful life is told vividly, although Higginbotham spares the reader nothing of the horror of some of the events. Unlike many historical novels, I was pleased to see that although sex is referred to frankly, and often implied, there are no gratuitously explicit sex scenes (not that I have a great problem with that - I simply think explicit sex is overused, and this novel is an illustration of the fact that one's work can be just as interesting, if not more so, without going into graphic detail in that regard). The dialogue is primarily modern English, which jarred at first, but the language is not excessively anachronistic.

This is by no means a light read, but it is certainly a worthwhile one. I was very impressed. Highly recommended.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Traitor's Wife, 8 Oct 2007
By 
Tami Brady "Tami Brady: Transition-Empowermen... (Calgary, Canada) - See all my reviews
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The Traitor's Wife is a fictional tale based upon the real life, genealogical records, and whispered gossip of Edward II of England. This tale gets right into the hearsay of Edward and Piers Gaveston's special relationship right at the opening of the action. The book even has the two discussing the need to produce heirs and determining an appropriate match for Piers. Infighting, schemes, and scandals continue throughout the rest of the entire story. This book definitely shows a more private, hidden face of Edward and his peers than most works written about this time period.

As I first started reading this book, I was really glad that the author had included crib notes describing who each person was and their relationship to others in the story. After a while though, I found it much easier to figure out who was who. This was particularly true of those main characters that always seem to be at the thick of the latest melodrama.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Traitors Wife, 7 Feb 2009
By 
Kay Wilkes (Solihull, Westmidlnds United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I loved this book. At the start I thought it was going to be a bit Mills and Boon, but I was wrong. It shows wonderful depth and the reader finds themselves dragged in to the era. Fantastic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good historical story, 3 Feb 2014
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A great walk back in time firing the imagination while at the same time giving a good history lesson. I love the way the author at the end of the book goes on to say what became of the characters after the story ended. It brought home the realities of their lived
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Medieval, 1 Sep 2010
This review is from: The Traitor's Wife (Paperback)
What a fabulous book. I really enjoyed The Traitor's Wife. The rich historical details were wonderful and the characters full of life and true to their period, including the habit of people all having the same name!

I reccommend this book to anyone who likes engrossing mainstream historical novels.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good read and an interesting perspective, 28 Mar 2010
By 
John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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A very good novel that presents an interestingly sympathetic view of historical personages such as Edward II and his favourites Piers Gaveston and Hugh le Despenser, who are usually depicted in a largely or wholly negative light. I am not sure that the central character, Hugh's wife Eleanor, is wholly convincing as a Medieval lady given her seemingly limitless sexual appetite, but I suppose that appeals to those more interested in the novel as a historical romance. But it is more than that and is clearly well researched.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Traitor's Wife, 18 May 2008
This is an excellent novel about the reign of Edward II's niece, Eleanor. It follows Eleanor from her marriage to Hugh Despencer and the aftermarth of the deposition of Edward II. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. The novel is sympathetic to Edward, his favourite Gaveston and Despencer.
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The Traitor's Wife
The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham (Paperback - 7 April 2009)
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