The Traitor’s Wife – Susan Higginbotham

Title: The Traitor’s Wife
Author: Susan Higginbotham
ISBN: 9781402217876
Pages: 512
Release Date: April 1, 2009
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

From the publisher’s website:

Eleanor de Clare, favorite niece of King Edward II, is delighted with her marriage to Hugh le Despenser. It soon becomes apparent, however, that Eleanor’s beloved uncle is not the king the nobles of the land – or his queen – expected. Hugh’s unbridled ambition and his intimate relationship with Edward arouse widespread resentment, even as Eleanor remains fiercely loyal to her husband and to her king. But loyalty has its price.

The Traitor’s Wife is a tome that chronicles the reign of Edward II, who reigned in England from 1307 – 1327.  It is told from the point of view of Eleanor de Clare, a young woman with strong ties to the royal family.  The book spans many years and is intricately woven; there are many characters and storylines weaving their way through this well-written novel.

The most striking thing about The Traitor’s Wife is the sheer amount of research that went into writing the book.  Higginbotham must have spent years reading about medieval England, figuring out how to craft a novel that would exude the atmosphere necessary for a story such as this.  The cast of characters is so expansive that there is a multi-page list of characters and descriptions at the beginning of the novel.  It is a very handy guide that I found myself referring to more than once.  I was simply astounded at how well this book is written, in terms of the history involved.  Higginbotham makes medieval England come alive in The Traitor’s Wife.

The characters are also very well written, yet each is flawed.  I liked Eleanor, but was sometimes frustrated with her blindness.  Edward II was easy to love, yet he wasn’t a good king and let his personal feelings interfere with the way he ruled.  Hugh was likeable, yet grew increasingly ambitious as the novel progressed.  Higginbotham managed to create three-dimensional and well-rounded characters that are completely believable.  They are by no means perfect; instead, they are like real people.

The Traitor’s Wife is long, and is slow going at times.  I can understand why Higginbotham chose to end the novel where she did, yet sometimes I felt like she could have ended it much earlier and it would still have had the same effect.  As a result, it is best read slowly.  Due to the complexity of the plot, it is not a book someone can rush through or expect to finish quickly.  This is a book to savor and to read leisurely. 

As I’ve said before, I was very impressed with The Traitor’s Wife.  It is by no means perfect; there were plot twists I didn’t like and relationships I wasn’t fond of.  But it was real – with the amount of detail, I could believe that this novel was non-fiction.  It is a must for any historical fiction fan, especially those who are a fan of British history.  I highly recommend it!

Comments

  1. I think Higginbotham did a fantastic job – particularly for a book that was originally self-published – but I also thought it could have used some more editing. It was a little longer than it needed to be and some of the turns of phrase didn’t hit me quite right for some reason, but overall a very good book. There’s really not much historical fiction out there on Edward II, which is sort of surprising, given how dramatic that period was in the court.

  2. I think Higginbotham did a fantastic job – particularly for a book that was originally self-published – but I also thought it could have used some more editing. It was a little longer than it needed to be and some of the turns of phrase didn’t hit me quite right for some reason, but overall a very good book. There’s really not much historical fiction out there on Edward II, which is sort of surprising, given how dramatic that period was in the court.

  3. This one has caught my eye a few times as one I might enjoy! Great review.

  4. This one has caught my eye a few times as one I might enjoy! Great review.

  5. This one is on my Wish List – I AM a British History fan! Thanks for your review.

  6. This one is on my Wish List – I AM a British History fan! Thanks for your review.

  7. I’d like to try more historical fiction, but this one may not be the one for me if it’s long and slow.

  8. I’d like to try more historical fiction, but this one may not be the one for me if it’s long and slow.

  9. I love HF and now several people whose opinions I respect have recommended Higginbotham. I get the picture, and I’ll jump on the bandwagon.

  10. I love HF and now several people whose opinions I respect have recommended Higginbotham. I get the picture, and I’ll jump on the bandwagon.

  11. I’ve got this one up next week so I just popped in to check your rating. Glad you liked it. I’ll be back.

  12. I’ve got this one up next week so I just popped in to check your rating. Glad you liked it. I’ll be back.

  13. This one’s been on my wishlist for ages. It sounds great 😀

  14. This one’s been on my wishlist for ages. It sounds great 😀

  15. I have this one fore review later this month as well. So far I am enjoying it and I can see what you mean about intricacies of plot.

  16. I have this one fore review later this month as well. So far I am enjoying it and I can see what you mean about intricacies of plot.

  17. Thanks for the review!

  18. Thanks for the review!

  19. what a daunting task to take on writing an accurate historical novel–sounds like higginbotham did a good job. i liked your review and enjoy the genre. adding it to my TBR list. cheers!

  20. what a daunting task to take on writing an accurate historical novel–sounds like higginbotham did a good job. i liked your review and enjoy the genre. adding it to my TBR list. cheers!

  21. I do like historical fiction. This one sounds great. I just put it on my amazon list for future reading. Thanks.

  22. I do like historical fiction. This one sounds great. I just put it on my amazon list for future reading. Thanks.

  23. I didn’t realize it was a “long” one. Good to know. I do like to prioritize my reading schedule and if there is a shorter book that I’ve been dying to get to, then I definitely want to make sure to read that one before getting into The Traitor’s Wife. Sometimes you are in the mood to devote a longer amount of time and it is a disaster if you are not! Thank you so much for your review. I have had this on my wishlist for a long time. Maybe it’ll show up in the local bookstore, I definitely want to get this one, especially for that Historical time period.

  24. I didn’t realize it was a “long” one. Good to know. I do like to prioritize my reading schedule and if there is a shorter book that I’ve been dying to get to, then I definitely want to make sure to read that one before getting into The Traitor’s Wife. Sometimes you are in the mood to devote a longer amount of time and it is a disaster if you are not! Thank you so much for your review. I have had this on my wishlist for a long time. Maybe it’ll show up in the local bookstore, I definitely want to get this one, especially for that Historical time period.

  25. Just posted my review today. I really liked this one!

  26. Just posted my review today. I really liked this one!

  27. Glad you mostly enjoyed the book. I never found it long at all, and I agree that it must’ve taken a lot of research. Thanks for the review.

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

  28. Glad you mostly enjoyed the book. I never found it long at all, and I agree that it must’ve taken a lot of research. Thanks for the review.

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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