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13 Reviews
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings the characters to life
Susan Higginbotham's books are like literary Tardises, I often think - they look like the size of a standard novel, they have the same number of pages - 320 or so here - and yet they must be bigger on the inside somehow, because whenever I read the last page and put the book down I feel like I've just read a full length epic. It packs in so much story. Occasionally,...
Published 21 months ago by Iset

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wars Of The Roses The Story of Margaret of Anjou
Well it was difficult to get interested enough to want to read on, and on, as the story was very long and drawn out. I felt that a lot more colourful characters could have been put in to hold the readers interest, without getting them too confused. I know that can be difficult, but that said, it did not make you feel any pity for this woman somehow. But at least it was...
Published 19 months ago by blanc sanglier


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings the characters to life, 27 July 2013
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Iset (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Susan Higginbotham's books are like literary Tardises, I often think - they look like the size of a standard novel, they have the same number of pages - 320 or so here - and yet they must be bigger on the inside somehow, because whenever I read the last page and put the book down I feel like I've just read a full length epic. It packs in so much story. Occasionally, several months are covered in one chapter, or events are summarised in a scene that perhaps I would have preferred to see played out, but Higginbotham uses what little space there is so well. The story doesn't feel abbreviated, or choppy, or disjointed, as some shorter historical novels can. Instead, the choice of key scenes feels eminently judicious, succinctly conveying the information the reader needs - and without drumming us over the head with it or providing unnecessary info - and picking out key moments in the characters' lives, which are written with such insight and realism, that I could easily imagine the historical human stories and personalities, and very quickly engaged with and empathised with the protagonists. This style of historical writing is one I favour.

Higginbotham is attentive to historical detail and fact, seeking to produce a more genuine, accurate, gripping truth, and dispelling baseless myth. Fictitious elements where included are fully disclosed, plausible, and do not warp or directly contradict the actual history, and the research is impeccable. Higginbotham has a real understanding of human character and how to convey that on the page. The best stories always seem to have the most human characters. These people are not "good" or "bad", or defined by a handful of key traits repeated over and over again. They undertake poor and admirable decisions, act in ambiguous ways that outside observers view as laudable, deplorable, and everything in between. They are motivated by their own unique concerns and interests, lead everyday lives, live in the moment under circumstances both ordinary and extraordinary, and experience things both universal and unique. They are highly complex and subtle. In short, they are real human beings and it is easy to imagine them in real life, empathise with their plight, well up at their losses, and smile at their happiness. This is fundamental to engaging the reader and making them care and invest in the story. Less well developed characters just don't do this because they just don't act like real people.

This is definitely one I'm going to be reading again and again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glad I persevered, 1 Jun. 2013
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Mrs. "May the Force be with you" (Hertfordshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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When I began listening to this book I found the narration extremely irritating, particularly the male voices which in the case of men aged between 30 -50 were indistinguishable and I did not feel were suited with the character and personalities, however there is much that we do not know and the more controversial of the myths surrounding Margaret and these rumoured transgressions were convincingly and sensitively weaved in to a novel that offers much to commend regarding historical accuracy. I enjoyed hearing the story from each different characters perspective and have purchased the book which I am sure I will enjoy as much...far more convincing and less flowery than other well known authors, I just wish a bit more thought went into choosing a narrator who could manage a little more than a stereotypical depiction of some of the characters which makes some of them appear sneering and simpering in a rather unnatural way. No regrets though will listen to it again in the future and looking forward to reading an otherwise exciting book which convincingly allows the reader to experience the true and brutal nature of war.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wars Of The Roses The Story of Margaret of Anjou, 8 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou (Paperback)
Well it was difficult to get interested enough to want to read on, and on, as the story was very long and drawn out. I felt that a lot more colourful characters could have been put in to hold the readers interest, without getting them too confused. I know that can be difficult, but that said, it did not make you feel any pity for this woman somehow. But at least it was not a pie`s nest such as the BBC gave us in their dramatization of Phillippa Gregory`s three books, "The White Queen". Yes I do agree with the critic who said it should be named "The White Elephant". But going back to this book, I was quite relieved to have finished it, hence the 3 stars. I do wish American writers of historical novels would not use Americanisms such as `gotten` - what on earth is wrong with the word `got`? They do need proof reading for an English market. And no I am not offering myself up for the job.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing novel, 31 July 2013
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John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is an engrossing novel about the life and struggles of this Medieval queen, wife to the Lancastrian King Henry VI, battling to maintain her weak husband's throne against the Yorkist threat. I must say it is quite refreshing to read a novel of the Wars of the Roses set from a firmly pro-Lancastrian perspective, as the pro-Yorkist point of view has tended to be more popular with authors who write in the first person and/or take sides. Politics aside, I liked at a human level the sympathetic portrayal of Henry VI, a man beset by mental health problems and unfit to be a warrior king, but a very decent and humane man (he founded Eton College, originally as a school for boys from poorer background). Most of the novel is told from Margaret's first person perspective, which does have the disadvantage that dramatic battles usually happen "off stage" and are recounted in retrospect by variously victorious or defeated survivors. That said, some of the chapters are recounted from the point of view of male characters, such as Somerset, Prince Edward and Henry VI himself, but this gives rise to the paradox that these characters are narrating episodes where they die at the end - so how could they be narrating them? In a dramatic sense, I guess this does not matter too much, but it jarred a bit with me, and the episodes could have perhaps transferred to the third person before their denouements. This is a bit of a nitpick, though - this was a very good read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulously absorbing, 9 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou (Paperback)
This book absorbed my attention more than most books do, so I have to give it a plug and the author a thank you for so skilfully widening my knowledge of the dramatis personae involved in the 15th century's French-English conflict. Without excellent historical stories like this, how could I ever work out Anne Neville and her husbands? And I suspect the author could have got away without explaining the Louis XI-Warwick-Lancaster axis in the context of the York-Burgundy alliance, but didn't - you are given clear answers to questions that might emerge, so you are not left frustrated. She writes dialogue very well, subtly teasing motive out, but does not waste time getting the story to you. I knew absolutely nothing about Elizabeth Woodville until two months ago, with the opening episode of the excellent Philippa Gregory TV mini series, to which this book is a perfect single volume companion. I now have two more 15th century Margarets to explore - Beaufort and Burgundy - hopefully whatever I find is as accessible and enjoyable as this.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 20 July 2013
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Tony (West Wales) - See all my reviews
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Anyone who had tried writing historical fiction will tell you how challenging it is to find the right balance between carefully researched facts and the fiction necessary to `fill the gaps'. The Queen of Last Hopes achieves this perfectly - and really makes you want to find out more about Margaret, who shines through as a strong woman with the same vulnerabilities we all have. Susan Higginbotham is up there with the best historical fiction authors and has a refreshing attitude to rule breaking. When did you last read a book where the narrator switches to a different character who proves to be writing from the grave, having described their own death? Susan has chosen to apply her creative licence to the character of the Duke of Somerset, Henry Beaufort, but the book is better for it - and I am sure he would have approved!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Queen of last hopes The story of Margaret of Anjou, 21 July 2013
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This book made Margaret seem more human than in previous historical novels. Love for her son ne ver in doubt, but some of her decisions questionable , could have changed English history if she had won the battles.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Queen of last hopes, 13 July 2013
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A really good read I enjoyed the pace and depth of the story fiction at fact mix perfectly would recommend to anyone who loves the medieval period
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5.0 out of 5 stars Queen of last hopes., 3 Mar. 2014
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A very well written insight into the life of Margaret of Anjou...at times difficult to put down... Go on, treat yourself!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could Not Put It Down, 21 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou (Paperback)
I really enjoyed reading this book. If you enjoy historical novels then you will enjoy this one. Susan Higganbotham has again written a book that will have you questioning what you think you know.
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The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou
The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou by Susan Higginbotham (Paperback - 10 Feb. 2011)
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