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Queen Of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou [Paperback]

Susan Higginbotham
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Jan. 11 2011

A man other than my husband sits on England's throne today.

What would happen if this king suddenly went mad? What would his queen do? Would she make the same mistakes I did, or would she learn from mine?

Margaret of Anjou, queen of England, cannot give up on her husband-even when he slips into insanity. And as mother to the House of Lancaster's last hope, she cannot give up on her son-even when England turns against them. This gripping tale of a queen forced to stand strong in the face of overwhelming odds is at its heart a tender tale of love.

Award-winning author Susan Higginbotham will once again ask readers to question everything they know about right and wrong, compassion and hope, duty to one's country and the desire of one's own heart.

Praise for Susan Higginbotham

'A beautiful blending ofturbulent history and deeply felt fiction, Susan Higginbotham's The Queen of Last Hopes brings alive an amazing woman often overlooked or slandered by historians. Higginbotham has given readers of historical fiction a gift to treasure.' -Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of The Irish Princess

'A compelling, fast paced, and well-written saga that is destined to both entertain and educate anyone interested in the spirited and fascinating Margaret of Anjou for generations to come!' -D. L. Bogdan, author of Secrets of the Tudor Court

'The Queen of Last Hopes is an inspiring novel of a woman who, in the face of betrayal and loss, would not surrender. Susan Higginbotham brings Margaret of Anjou to life and tells the story of the Frenchwoman who was one of the strongest queens England has ever known.' -Christy English, author of The Queen's Pawn and To Be Queen


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Review

One of Higginbotham's strengths is taking the reader into this world and letting them feel what day to day life was like. 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. The reader will enjoy Higganbotham's research and ability to bring an era and its characters to life. (Booksie's Blog 2011-01-14)

Susan Higginbotham writes a good book. Research, honesty and genuine historical accuracy – the hallmarks of her work – show through in Queen of Last Hopes as they did in The Stolen Crown. Her books can be trusted, and this isn't something that can be said about a good many authors of historical fiction. (A Nevill Feast 2011-01-14)

This story was absolutely wonderful with vivid scenes that pop before your eyes. The characters shower you with feelings so raw that you can't help but feel as they do. This is a story that is very difficult to put down. (Yankee Romance Reviewers 2011-01-14)

The Queen of Last Hopes is a winner and will please Higginbotham's fans and attract new readers from the adherents of the Lancastrian faction. (Historical Novel Review 2011-01-14)

Of all 4 of Susan Higginbotham's historical novels, this is my favorite. Add this one to your wishlists and TBR piles–it's a good one! (Historical-Fiction.com 2011-01-14)

Kudos to Susan for taking on a character so reviled by history and shedding new light on her actions...All in all this is a good book. (At Home with a Good Book and the Cat 2011-01-14)

I could not put it down; I was so entertained by Higginbotham's telling of Margaret's story which is why I endowed the five star rating.. Readers will become immersed in the quest for the rightful owner of the crown of England, as history's mysteries also seep through to help add to the titillation of the reader. (The Burton Review 2011-01-14)

The book is hard to put down once started. Each chapter is written in the voice of an important figure of the time so it is not one sided at all. Ms. Higgenbotham takes some liberties with history for the sake of her novel but she explains them clearly in the notes at the end. It is after all a NOVEL and entertainment is part of the package. And I was entertained as well as educated. What more could one ask from a historical novel? (The Broken Teepee 2011-01-14)

Last year I finally read my first Susan Higginbotham novel, The Stolen Crown and was hooked. I was anxiously awaiting her latest novel, The Queen of Last Hopes and was lucky enough to receive a review copy. I was not disappointed. 4.5/5 stars (So Many Precious Books, So Little Time 2011-01-14)

This is a brilliant piece of historical fiction and is highly recommended (Readin and Dreamin 2011-01-14)

Susan Higginbotham's books are a historical fiction lover's gold mine...As a reader I caught myself wishing that history would re-write itself and give Margaret and Henry a happy ending, but it wasn't to be. But if a book can make you feel that way, it's really saying something about the author and the writing of the book. I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag! (Debbie's Book Bag 2011-01-14)

Susan Higginbotham is a wonderful story teller and The Queen of Last Hopes is a must read for all those who love a great historical novel. I give The Queen of Last Hopes 5 out of 5 stars.
(Michelle's Book Blog 2011-01-14)

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I was incredibly sad when I came to the end which is the sign of a story well told. (Scandalous Women 2011-01-14)

In The Queen of Last Hopes Higginbotham successfully gives a voice to one of the most maligned women in history and in usual fashion, with spot-on historical accuracy and skillful writing, it's one you won't want to miss!

(Passages to the Past 2011-01-14)

This book is next to impossible to put down once you start it. (Book Drunkard 2011-01-28)

Ms. Higginbotham does a masterful job of presenting characters that are likeable (or in some cases, detestable) within realistic boundaries. (Ever Expanding Library 2011-01-21)

I really enjoyed the book and it was great to read from Lancastrian point of view for change.

(Elina Blomqvist BookRamblings.net 2011-02-03)

It is written by the wonderful Susan Higginbotham, I knew it couldn't be anything but good and I was right.

(The Lady Gwyn's Kingdom 2011-02-08)

This was a book I found difficult to put down and a wonderful addition to any book shelf.




(A Moment with Mystee 2011-02-08)

I enjoyed this book and recommend it for anyone interested in the period of English history and Margaret of Anjou in particular.

(CelticLady's Review 2011-02-08)

Higginbotham effectively turned a character with negative stereotyping into a character that I could care about and connect with.

(The Maiden's Court 2011-02-08)

Susan Higginbotham weaves an intricate tale of love and betrayal in the captivating backdrop of 15th century England. The Queen of Last Hopes very effectively personalizes a family feud as famous as Campbell and MacDonald and Hatfield and McCoy.

(Luxury Reading 2011-02-08)

Overall, The Queen of Last Hopes was an engaging historical novel for me that suited my expectations perfectly. (Medieval Bookworm 2011-01-21)

To say it was fabulous is an understatement. Ms. Higginbotham did an excellent job on her research, and truly did the real-life characters a service in portraying their stories.
(History Undressed 2011-01-17)

I don't cry often at stories but this had me fighting back tears over the last several chapters. I would certainly read more by this author. If you enjoy historical fiction you should love this book.
(Martha's Bookshelf 2011-01-18)

I highly recommend The Queen of Last Hopes to every reader who enjoys historical fiction and to those who have not yet tried a historical fiction book, this is the one to read.
(Rundpinne 2011-01-19)

I love it when an author takes a historical character and brings them to life in a way that is fresh and new. That is exactly what Susan Higginbotham did with Margaret of Anjou. (Queen of Happy Endings 2011-01-17)

Wow, just wow this book completely blew me away. I was mesmerized from the begging and found putting it down was very hard. (Sara is Reading What? 2011-01-13)

About the Author

Susan Higginbotham is the author of four historical novels, including The Stolen Crown, The Queen of Last Hopes, and Hugh and Bess. The Traitor's Wife, her first novel, is the winner of ForeWord Magazine's 2005 Silver Award for historical fiction and is a Gold Medalist, Historical/Military Fiction, 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards. She writes her own historical fiction blog and is a contributor to the blog Yesterday Revisited. Higginbotham has worked as an editor and an attorney, and lives in North Carolina with her family.

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Mrs. Q: Book Addict TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Author: Susan Higginbotham
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 368
Source: ARC from Publisher
Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Margaret of Anjou was betrothed to Henry VI at the age of fourteen, a match that was suppose to bring stability and peace between the much rivalled England and France. Her husband-to-be, Henry was throned as an infant, and very different from his father. While his father was a military hero, Henry VI yearned for peace., he believed that Margaret would bring him what he wanted. A young Margaret was sent off alone, and had to endure a long, arduous boat trip, a trip that left her indisposed and consoled by strangers. To make matters worst, her parents left her a measly, embarrassing dowry. Margaret was scared, and unsure of her outcome. When Margaret finally reaches England, she is relieved to meet her patient, loving, and kind husband. Her dowry is forgotten, the King showers her with gifts and life is looking bright. Shortly after her coronation Queen Margaret's family have their own ultimatums, and Margaret must deliver. Her future is threatened, Margaret is pulled between the love of her husband, and the loyalty to her family. When she has issues producing an heir, the people of England remain cold, the longer she advances without becoming pregnant, the people become more hostile and suspicious. Margaret begins to lose hope, Henry stands patient and comforting. King Henry, thought to be a weak King, trusting too easily and questioning very little. His family seems to all have their own interests at stake, and see a thorn that may soon become vacant. When Margaret bores a son, she is elated but her happiness is soon splintered when she finds out her husband is not lucid.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  46 reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sympathy for the Maligned Jan. 15 2011
By H. Rieseck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is the first book that I have read on the Wars of the Roses that has been from a Lancaster point of view and I was surprised how the author was able to turn my opinion to their side after reading this book (though I have to admit as I am writing this I am reading another WOTR book from the York side and now I am leaning back that way too!). I think that part of the draw was that the story is mostly narrated by Margaret of Anjou who has been victimized by history as a "she-wolf" and seen mostly as an evil woman who wrested power from her poor mad husband King Henry VI. Seeing things from Margaret's perspective and experiencing her feelings first hand really made a soft spot for her in my mind. I have found that some of the best novels are those that take on the maligned character and make you see them as a person and not just the historical stereotype - Higginbotham does that amazingly well here.

There are a few chapters sprinkled throughout the story that are narrated by other characters on the Lancaster side. It is essential in this story because the narration is first person you can only see what that character saw; Margaret wasn't actually at many of the places where the action on for the Lancaster's happened. These other narrators were well developed as characters in the story before they were a narrator so it wasn't jarring to have them telling the story. There was only one major issue I had with these alternate narrators and this was when someone would narrate their own death scene - or still talk to us after they were dead (this shouldn't be a spoiler as you should expect a lot of deaths in the Wars of the Roses). It would just really aggravate me because it didn't fit with the rest of the novel whereas the narrators are alive and well and telling what is going on around them. This sort of thing happened a couple of times.

I was most impressed with the extensive character listing in the book. With so many characters in the Wars of the Roses, it is tough to keep track of who is who, especially when their titles changed all of the time. The listing had little descriptions of who that person was and it was organized by families - so it was much easier to keep your mind straight. I referred back to this time and again. I will probably also use it when I read other WOTR books.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Now that I have read one book from each side of this War, I have a better sense of what they were fighting for. Higginbotham effectively turned a character with negative stereotyping into a character that I could care about and connect with.

This book was received from the publisher in exchange for a review and this was also posted on my blog.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-read Jan. 18 2011
By Blodeuedd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Plot:

The War of the Roses, ok I will do my best. Margaret of Anjou was married to Henry VI from the house of Lancaster. Together they had a son Edward. Henry was mad, other people wanted power because they all descended from the same king. Warwick, the king-maker plotted with the Duke of York, and what follows is battles, the king being captured, Margaret plotting for her husband and son, more battles, people turning sides etc etc. King Edward IV. Exile, plotting, and then I will not even go into the whole plotting inside the York camp and when they kill each other.

My thoughts:

This was my second Higginbotham book and I do enjoy her books. They are so rich in history, and so full of detail. Sure I was lost now and again. How could I not be, all these people plotting were cousins, so cousin killing cousin, cousin marrying cousin, brother killing brother. Always switching sides, but all the major players are listed in the book so it felt good to go and have a look at that. The War of the Roses will always be one big mess, but Higginbotham makes a good job explaining it all.

I have read other books, yes more Yorkist books, so I never thought much about Margaret. But she was so young, and her husband went mad so early. The people hated her and said that her son was not the kings. I felt really sorry for her because her whole world just crumbled under her. I also saw her with new eyes, because those who win write the history and she has not been looked upon with gentle eyes. But then the women are always the weak spot and get all the blame.

I even turned into a Lancastrian, they had the right to rule. Still a mad king is not a good king, so I am a bit of a Yorkist there. But as usual, Warwick is an evil man, and I just have to like Edward IV. I also have to mention Henry Beaufort, the Duke of Somerset, I even had a bit of a crush on him, and I did like that Higginbotham took some creative freedom and played a bit with him.

A great book, you are there, you are on the side of the House of Lancaster and look at things from their point of view. Margaret is the main character, but instead of letting her tell it all, there are some other POVs, Somerset among others. And I did like that, because then you really were on all those battle fields.

Recommendation and final thoughts:

I do recommend her books to all historical fiction fans, and the rest of you too. They are just so good, and I just become more and more interested in The War of the Roses. A messy period in time turns into one great story.

Reason for reading:

I really enjoyed her last book, The Stolen Crown (Go York ;)
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Margaret of Anjou Tells her Tale Jan. 4 2011
By P. Woodland - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As it was so often in history, a young woman of nobility is sent to marry a King in hopes of securing one thing or another. In the case of Margaret of Anjou and Henry VII it was peace. Women who yielded power and lost have quite frequently been portrayed as witches, whores or any number of other colorful epithets. Margaret of Anjou was written as a "she wolf" thanks to Shakespeare.

Susan Higgenbotham has done a marvelous job of researching Margaret and the War of the Roses to present the often confusing York/Lancaster battles for the crown in this well written new book. I have to admit to a certain confusion over all the back and forth in this time period; it is not a favorite of mine but it does ultimately lead up to those Tudors. In The Queen of Last Hopes Ms. Higgenbotham presents Margaret not as a woman fighting just for the sake of fighting but rather as a mother fighting for the rights of her son. Her son's claim to that throne was as strong (in her eyes) as the Yorkist claim and she was going to do whatever she could to fight for him and for her country.

The book is hard to put down once started. Each chapter is written in the voice of an important figure of the time so it is not one sided at all. While it IS Margaret's story other voices do get heard. Ms. Higgenbotham takes some liberties with history for the sake of her novel but she explains them clearly in the notes at the end. It is after all a NOVEL and entertainment is part of the package. And I was entertained as well as educated. What more could one ask from a historical novel?

History is written by the victors and often propaganda is passed as fact. Presenting another side of a story backed by detailed research can open your eyes to rethinking rumors of great historical women.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lackluster Portrayal of a Powerhouse Queen March 4 2012
By Miranda Good - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was underwhelmed by Ms. Higginbotham's earlier entry about the Wars of the Roses, "The Stolen Crown," but since the author had clearly displayed her Lancastrian sympathies in that work, I thought she might do better with her portrayal of Margaret of Anjou, the quintessential Lancastrian Queen. Another disappointment. Margaret's determination to keep her batty husband Henry VI on the throne of England and to preserve it for their son resulted in decades of warfare and the decimation of the English nobility. Margaret is generally shown by unfriendly authors as being a ruthless and vengeful woman who refused to relent in her determination to win her cause at any cost. In this version, Margaret is often not even "on site" when atrocities occur. She is depicted as primarily a victim, not an instigator. This attempt to insulate Margaret from the blame for her actions actually weakens the crucial impact she had on historical events and causes her to appear far less powerful than she was. I was hoping to see a realistic portrayal of this woman's psychology, but all that is offered here is a watered-down rendering of an unfairly targeted, innocent victim of brutal political rivalries. I was willing to set aside my biases as to her bloodthirsty nature, but all that is given here is a sad display of a lovelorn woman and a mother's devotion. Surely this pivotal figure in history had more steel in her backbone than Ms. Higginbotham allows in her attempt to "soften" Margaret's characterization. Last, Higginbotham is unable to omit the historically baseless canard that Richard III (then Richard of Gloucester) personally suffocated the incarcerated Henry VI. Worse, the sloppy grammar which appeared throughout "Crown" is again rife in this work. The author doesn't seem to get pronoun usage and I gave up expecting literate writing when I ran across her mention of "wistful thinking." Two was enough; I won't try this author again.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Look At A Little-Known Queen June 5 2011
By Sandra Kirkland - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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.
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