The Queen of Last Hopes

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis   in Bookworm

The Queen of Last Hopes

Book Review:  The Queen of Last Hopes

Susan Higginbotham, The Queen of Last Hopes.  Sourcebooks Inc., Naperville, 2011.  ISBN 9781402242816 (pbk)

As the red rose on the cover indicates The Queen of Last Hopes is a Lancastrian queen:  Margaret of Anjou, the queen of Henry VI.  Susan Higginbotham narrates Margaret’s life against the backdrop of the earlier part of the Wars of the Roses through the eyes of a variety of Lancastrian witnesses, often Margaret herself, but for scenes where she was not present she uses others, for instance William de la Pole or Henry Beaufort as well as Margaret’s husband and son.

Clearly, Susan sits on the opposite side of the fence when it comes to the conflict between the House of York and the House of Lancaster.  While it initially came as a bit of a shock to see our Yorkist heroes described in a fairly negative light, this is a positive and necessary experience as it forces us to re-evaluate our preconceived ideas.  We need to remember that all too often our views of medieval persons are based on prejudice, so in order to come to a more balanced understanding it is necessary to be jolted out of our complacency every now and then.

Susan’s The Queen of Last Hopes offers us the opportunity to meet Margaret of Anjou as a real person we can sympathise with.  She is not a one-dimensional saint, nor is she the one-dimensional villain we encounter so often in Ricardian fiction.  Her actions are well-motivated by her feelings for her husband, her son and their rights.

The book is based on impeccable historical research, which is also reflected by the Author’s Note at the end.  While I was disappointed by the only appearance of Richard of Gloucester, in which he is committing one of the killings he gets traditionally blamed for, she does explain in the Notes that there is no proof for this.

I still prefer my roses white, but can only recommend this book.  It is an enjoyable read and will prevent tunnel-vision.

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This entry was posted on Monday, May 9th, 2011 at 15:27 and is filed under Bookworm. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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  1. Richard III Society of NSW » Blog Archive » Review: Queen by Right    Aug 03 2011 / 3pm:

    […] to the struggles, known to us as the Wars of the Roses.  I recently read Susan Higginbotham’s latest novel, which covers approximately the same time frame.  Susan’s Queen of Last Hopes – Margaret […]

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