Wednesday, July 13, 2016

REVIEW: Her Highness, the Traitor by Susan Higginbotham

Her Highness, the Traitor
by Susan Higginbotham

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Page Count: 323
Release Date: June 1, 2012
Format: Trade Paperback

How got: personal buy; from Amazon

First attention getter: the author; already loved her

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

As Henry VIII draws his last breath, two very different women, Jane Dudley, Viscountess Lisle, and Frances Grey, Marchioness of Dorset, face the prospect of a boy king, Edward VI.

For Jane Dudley, basking in the affection of her large family, the coming of a new king means another step upward for her ambitious, able husband, John. For Frances Grey, increasingly alienated from her husband and her brilliant but arrogant daughter Lady Jane, it means that she—and the Lady Jane—are one step closer to the throne of England.

Then the young king falls deathly ill. Determined to keep England under Protestant rule, he concocts an audacious scheme that subverts his own father’s will. Suddenly, Jane Dudley and Frances Grey are reluctantly bound together in a common cause—one that will test their loyalties, their strength, and their faith, and that will change their lives beyond measure.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

Higginbotham never fails to please in making history real to her readers; giving vague historical figures a 3D persona and impulses all their own. This work took a bit longer to get into, but she still excelled in these key points.

It took a bit longer for me to get into this work than her previous works. It had to do with the timeframe this one explored, Tudor times rather than the High Middle Ages. I’ve not read as much in the Tudor era as it seems overdone. Yet, this one talked about minor players in the “Game of Thrones” that was Tudor England politics so I figured I’d give it a try.

Historical integrity made an appearance, another hallmark of Higginbotham. The turbulent years of post-Henry VIII are lovingly portrayed in all their bloody and magnificent glory. Families and individuals rose and fell with startling swiftness in these years; the author explores how that impacted the women of these families, often the pawns of others trapped in a dangerous game. Knowing these ladies were real, getting to know them through tragedy and fire, is why I read historical fiction.

At first, I got a bit lost in the deluge of names, faces, and titles. Some background knowledge of Tudor politics and personages probably would have helped in this era. About the only title I recognized was the Duke of Somerset (Thank you Tudors TV show! LOL) and then of course, I knew of Jane Grey, her sisters/mother, and husband.

Higginbotham makes them so much more, though. Jane is a spoiled, cunning brat that starts to mature and show vulnerability as her ascent comes to a screeching halt. Frances is swept up in the whirlwind of her husband’s ambitions and plans, trying to keep an even keel for her family. Guildford marries into the wrong family at the wrong time, an innocent caught up in the struggle for the Crown. And it goes on… Each character grows as an individual, developing as the story progresses. I grew to care about the fate of each person, feeling melancholy when fate struck and joy when happiness was achieved.

Despite being a bit harder to get into than the other Higginbotham works I’ve read, this one still turned out a solid addition to her bibliography. I like that she’s getting away from the Middles Ages; her next work on my list to read is post-American Civil War. Wherever in the currents of history she chooses to play, Susan always manages to fish out great characters, glorious stories, and themes that touch the heart. Highly recommended!

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