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(4.5) A refreshing new look at the Yorks and the Lancasters
on 19 February 2010
The Stolen Crown begins is told from the alternating POV of Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham and his wife Katherine Woodville. Henry (Harry) was married as a young child to Katherine, younger sister of Elizabeth Woodville - Queen of England and wife to Edward IV (no small feat for those *grasping* Woodvilles). When they grow older Harry and Katherine are able to establish a strong marriage, but Harry wants more power and position at court than Edward is willing to give him and he chafes at the bit, which only exacerbates his dilema. Harry is on firmer ground with Edward's younger brother Richard and when Edward dies and Richard thinks he can take it all.......
This period and it's history is much too complicated to try to spell out in a review - either you know the basics going in and don't need a rehash or if you don't I'd just have your eyes glazing over trying to explain it all. What I enjoyed most about this one was the *fresh* look at the period from the POV of Harry and Kate and how his rebellion against Richard III might have come about. I just loved Kate's voice and her dry sense of humor, as well as seeing them both as children and then adults caught up in a political storm beyond their control.
I loved the way the author brought some humor into the York/Lancaster differences, as well as busting some of those commonly held myths - Katherine being much older than Harry as well as the Woodville women being practicing witches. I appreciate that Higginbotham doesn't try to muddle her story with *authentic* period language - no "woe is me" to be found in this book (but that's a good thing). You also won't find a saintly-pure-as-the-driven-snow Richard as he's been painted by recently by some of our latest and *cough* greatest historical fiction authors, although this Ricardian may not always agree with the author's interpretations :p
Impeccably researched, the author mentions in her notes what is fact, what is surmised from the known facts as well as those mysteries that will probably never be solved like the Princes in the Tower. Highly recommended for any fan of this period as well as a good eye-opener for those new to it, this should give you a good grounding without overwhelming you at once. My all time favorite is still Sharon Penman's fabulous The Sunne in Splendour. 4.5/5 stars.
My copy courtesy of Sourcebooks. Thank you.