Apr 15, 2009

The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham

I recently received The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham from Sourcebooks for review and this April blog tour. Stay tuned for a giveaway after my review.

Susan Higginbotham's research shines through in this historical fiction about the reign of King Edward II. Despite the large cast in this book and the multiple Edwards, Hughs, and Joans, readers will not have a hard time keeping track of the characters and even if they get stuck, there is a handy character breakdown in the front of the book. I don't know much about 14th Century England, but I do remember Robert the Bruce from Braveheart, who does make a few appearances in the novel.

King Edward II is thrust onto the throne despite his wild ways after his father's death, and his niece Eleanor becomes Isabella of France's lady-in-waiting, Edward's new bride and queen. Sweeping through battles, bedroom scenes, and the court, readers will get an inside look at the kingdom and the politics that dominated England in the 14th Century. After checking some historical information, quite of bit of Higginbotham's plot is based upon well known facts about King Edward II and his kingdom at the time.

This novel is told from Eleanor's point of view, which will quickly absorb the reader in the story and how the political uprisings impacted her family and her husband, Hugh Despenser the Younger. The passage below occurs between the new queen, Isabella, and Eleanor.

"'And this Gaveston? Do you truly believe he and the king are nothing more than brothers to each other?'

'I don't know, your grace, and it would be presumptuous of me to guess, I think. I can only tell you this: The king loves Gaveston more than anyone in the world. And Gaveston for all of his ways loves the king too, I think.'

'And I should accept this?'" (Page 23)

Readers will find the back-and-forth of the dialogue engrossing, and the prose is vivid, like the passage below when Eleanor trudges through the woods:

Walking in the opposite direction from the men, and praying that there were none to follow them, she caught sight of a stream. It would certainly lead her to the river. Sobbing with relief, she hurried to the stream, not seeing in the growing darkness the root that caught her foot and sent her headlong down the bank and into the water. Soaked to the skin, her hands scraped on the pebbles she had grabbed in a vain effort to stop her fall, she emerged coughing and sputtering from the water, only to find that her throbbing ankle would not bear her weight. She crawled out of the stream and pulled herself upon a large rock, utterly defeated. (Page 48)

Although there are several instances when Hugh, Eleanor's husband, disappears, readers are not likely to be convinced of his blind ambition, which emerges later in the novel. Oftentimes, Hugh seems not to care much for court or the politics of the age when he interacts with his father, and he fails to show himself at court early on in his marriage to Eleanor, which to many readers could signify his ambivalence to wealth and power. However, Hugh plays a central role in the novel, seeking greater power, land, and favor from King Edward II. Another drawback to the novel is the tendency for the prose to tell rather than show plot points. Overall, this novel is engaging and informative for readers interested in 14th Century England and the nation's struggles with Scotland and its political regime.


I have 3 copies for U.S./Canada residents available from Sourcebooks and 1 copy, my gently used ARC, for an international recipient.

1. Please leave a comment here about your favorite historical novel for 1 entry.

2. For a second entry, come back tomorrow and leave a comment on my interview with Susan Higginbotham tomorrow, April 16.

3. Spread the word about the giveaway and leave a link on this post for a third entry.

***Remember to leave your email address and indicate if you are international in your comments***

Deadline is April 22 at 5PM

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. For a list of winners, go here.

About the Author (from her Website):

Susan Higginbotham has been writing, off and on, as long as she can remember. Her first stab at a historical novel was in junior high school, where she whiled away my study halls writing about the adventures of five orphaned siblings living through the Blitz. Fortunately, most of the details have escaped her, but as she recalls her characters had an endless supply of money and very few relatives to get in their way. Aside from the remarks such as "There's a war going on, you know" that she cleverly threw in once in a while, the characters could have just as easily been living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., in the 1970's (like herself) as in London in the 1940's. But everyone has to start somewhere, eh?

Read Susan Higginbotham's Website for the rest of her biography,
here, and check out her blog, here. You can buy this book here in the United States and here in Canada.

Check out the other stops on the tour:


Literary Feline said...

This does sound like an interesting novel. I'm not too familiar with the time period, I admit.

I'd like to enter the giveaway. Favorite historical novel . . . Does The 19th Wife count? It has a modern tale mixed in with it. If not, then I'd have to go with Nefertiti. Fascinating novel--not to mention fun.

literaryfeline AT gmail DOT com

Eva said...

Two completely superficial comments: I really like the book's cover and the author's haircut! :)

My favourite historical novel...probably War and Peace! But I don't think that's quite what you were looking for...I love the historical mystery series by Laurie King, set in the early twentieth century. My favourite of the books is probably The Moor.

Anna said...

I'm sorry the book was a bit disappointing for you. I'm almost done with it, and I must admit that I'm really enjoying it. No need to enter me, of course.

Interesting take on the prompt. Are you keeping all these poems to possibly work on at a later date?

Diary of an Eccentric

Anonymous said...

My favorite(s) used to be The Other Boleyn Girl and Centennial, but now I would have to say Centennial and Gone with the Wind.

jacketscovers AT yahoo DOT com

Nicole said...

I'm interested in this one. I"ve been trying to do more historical fiction outside of the Tudors (which is where my historical fiction love began).

I started with The Other Boylean Girl and I have to say it has stayed my favorite. Although, the movie didn't live up to the book.

Please enter me!
nbbaker1102 AT optonline DOT net

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read much historical fiction, so I'll have to go with Galway Bay. I'd like to read more, so please enter me. milou2ster(at)gmail.com

Anonymous said...

this is now on my tbr! My favorite historical novel? I can't think of a one -or-too many! Year of Wonders, maybe? How abt The Dante Club.

Linda said...

I love historical fiction; it's hard to choose just one favorite - probably A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick. But I also enjoyed everything I've read by Sharon Kay Penman and Bernard Cornwell. Like I said, hard to choose just one.

teabird said...

My favorite historical novel: Here be dragons. Wonderful!

teabird 17 !!at!! yahoo dot com

Nely said...

I've been reading some good reviews on this one. I WANNA READ IT! I don't have a favorite historical book - but I do like Philippa Gregory a lot.

♥ Nely

Ti said...

There's a lot of good being said about this one. Sounds like a real page-turner!

My fave historical novel is probably The Devil in the White City.

Bridget said...

Just wanted to say that I posted this on Win A Book.

Marie said...

I read a lot of historical novels -- my current favorite is Galway Bay (I love Irish history in particular).


Amanda said...

Thank you for the giveaway! I've been hearing great things about this one. Hmmm...well a recent favorite historical novel is Mistress of the Revolution...or The Spanish Bow...great books both of them.

Jayme said...

This book looks awesome! My favorite historical fiction at the moment is Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle triology. I'm the middle of reading it and I love Victorian times!


Anonymous said...

I don't have a specific favorite historical novel, but I love the genre!

I like the book cover!

jaam121388 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

Favorite - Autobiography of Henry the VIII by Margaret George.

I love the Plantagenents.

Amber said...

It is so hard to pick just one favorite historical novel, but On Borrowed Wings is a favorite of mine and Flygirl is very good as well!
Please enter me :)

Rachel said...

My favorite historical fiction novel is A Rose for the Crown by Anne Easter Smith. I've read and loved all of her books.


Mari said...

This book looks great. I love historical fiction.

I have given you an award. Come by and see. :)

Dar said...

I'm glad you liked this one too. I would most certainly read another of her novels. My question though is where am I on that tour list? lol.

Debs Desk said...

My favorite historical novel is anything by Philippa Gregory. Please include me in your giveaway.

allisonmariecat said...

I recently read The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, which is contemporary, but with 17th century flashbacks.


robynl said...

The Other Boleyn Girl for me also.
I've never heard of you Susan until now. Please enter me.


Shelley said...

This looks really good! The last HF novel that I read and loved was Nefertiti by Michele Moran.

saz AT chainreader DOT com

Shelley said...

I blogged about this here: http://freelunch.chainreader.com/2009/04/traitors-wife-giveaway.html

Anonymous said...

I just read and reviewed Nefertiti by Michelle Moran and loved it.

Isn't the cover of this book gorgeous? I think it's really eyecatching.

Please enter me (international)

Please let me give you my contact page link instead of an email. Please :)

Beth said...

This looks great! Please enter me!

My favorite historical is I, Cleopatra. Fat, but fascinating!


Kaye said...

Favorite historical - so many choices but one I really enjoyed was The Gates of Trevalyan set during the civil war. Wonderful story by Jacqueline Cook.


Sara said...

Please don't enter me. Just wanted to drop by and say I finished this book, and I found it excellent. It's a time in history I had a very scant knowledge of, and now one I've grown interested in. Great review. Nice choice on the passages you selected.

Becca said...

Please enter me. I'd love a chance to win. I don't know if I could pick one favorite book but I really enjoy the Cadfael series by Ellis Peters. I blogged about it here:



Valorie said...

I have so many favorite historical fiction! I love Imperium by Robert Harris and Roman Blood by Saylor. And I just adore Medicus by Ruth Downie.

I blogged: http://www.morbid-romantic.net/2009/04/14/book-giveaways-0413-0419/

(The US)

The Giveaway Diva said...

i love pride and prejudice a lot!!

nicolemarielum at hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

This book sounds really good, from what I've heard about it. I already have it on my wish list.

My favorite historical novel is probably 'Forever Amber'. It was the first full-length historical novel written for adults that I ever read. Prior to that it was always YA or novellas. So, that might make me a little biased in its favor, but it's definitely a great book.


Anonymous said...

I also commented on your interview already.


Alyce said...

Some of my favorite historical novels are about a time period but have no real historical figures in them. My favorite right now, for example, is the Outlander series.

akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

This one sounds great!

One of my favorite historical novels is The Kitchen Boy about the Romanovs.

Thanks for the giveaway!

Bingo said...

Would love to win this book. Thanks for the giveaway. I guess currently my favorite would be Galway Bay.

kdhaney (AT) gmail (DOT) com

Jo-Jo said...

I haven't read a lot of historical fiction, so I think that I will say my favorite is the last one that I read...Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. It brought to light some events that I really was unaware of, such as the interrogations that these people were put through.
Please enter me in your contest.

Joy said...

I would be interested in winning a copy of this book. I would say one of my fav. historical novels would be "Girl with a Pearl Earring"
jhoorm01 at yahoo.com

Elina said...

I would be very interested in winning a copy of this book. My favorite historical book is Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George and The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory.
I left comment in the interview post.
And thank you for making this international! I'm from Finland.

everdreaming AT suomi2 DOT fi

Ladytink_534 said...

Really want to read this one :)

Off the top of my head my favorite historical novel is A Brief Gaudy Hour by Margaret Campbell Barnes which I read when I was about 10 or 11.

ladytink_534 AT yahoo DOT com

Gwendolyn B. said...

I so want to read this one! And it's so hard to come up with ONE favorite historical novel - the whole genre is a favorite of mine! When asked this question, I fall back on SWORD AT SUNSET by Rosemary Sutcliff because it was the first time I read something about King Arthur written in a realistic vein and it had a strong impact.
Thanks for the chance to win this book!

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Cheryl S. said...

I love to read historical novels, but I don't have a favorite. I like the series written by Philippa Gregory that deals with Henry VIII & his wives.


VioletReads said...

I think my favorite historical fiction is probably _Here Be Dragons_ by Sharon Kaye Penman, but I'm also a huge fan of Marlowe's Edward II and almost all historical plays, which is kind of why I want to read this.

Teddy Rose said...

I wsnt to win this one so bad!

I have so many favorite historical novels that it'a hard to name just one. Historical fiction is my favorite genre! Since I have to name one, it will be A Secret River by Kate Grenville. If you haven't read it, you should!!

I blogged about your giveaway here:


teddyr66 at yahoo dot com

nfmgirl said...

I haven't read much in the way of fictional historical novels, outside of historical romance. My favorite would probably be The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss.

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

♔ jessica.marie said...

My favorite historical novel would have to be Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser. I have a huge obsession with Marie Antoinette ;)

lovejessicamarie [@] gmail [.] com

Llehn said...

Another vote for The Other Boleyn Girl here! Please enter me for the international draw. Thanks!


Annell said...

Historical Fiction is my favorite, so I read a lot of it. My favorite so far is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.


Llehn said...

By the way, I commented on the interview! It was an interesting read!


Julie said...

My new favorite historical novel is The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson!
I loved it so much.
Thanks for the giveaway!

Jess said...

I loved the Other Boleyn Girl as well -- please sign me up for this giveaway.

barney's book blog

Anonymous said...

YIPPEE!! I love Historical Fiction, please enter me in the giveaway.

My most recent favorite in the genre would be Black Ships by Jo Graham.

My email is pattirose4 (at) yahoo (dot) com

jwx4 said...

My favorite historical novel is Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire.

ibeeeg said...

I have been interested in reading this book - your review is awesome and has solidified my desire to read this book. Thanks.

Bcteagirl said...

I have not read many historical novels which is why I would love a chance to read this. It sounds like a good way to work my way into this sort of writing. The last 'historical' novel I read and loved was Clara Callan, but that is only set as far back as the 1930s :P

squiresj said...

I am becoming a big fan of historical romance novels. I would love to win and read and review this one. Please enter me. I don't believe I am getting in at last minute.
jrs362 (at) hotmail (dot) com