Once again Susan Higginbotham has spun a tale weaved with historical fact that had me falling head long into her latest, The Stolen Crown, with excitement. Now I don’t profess to be an expert at anything historical but I do love to read historical novels. I love when an author can teach me something along with giving me a story that captivates my interest. Susan Higginbotham has done that for me in all of her novels: The Traitor’s Wife (my review), Hugh and Bess (my review) and now with The Stolen Crown that takes on the Wars of the Roses.
Katherine Woodville is just seven years old when she is married to nine year old Henry (called Harry the majority of the time) Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. All of this comes about after her sister Elizabeth is secretly married to King Edward IV. From that point the lives of the Woodville family change dramatically as they are launched into King Edward IV’s Court – marriages are arranged and of course their financial status improves greatly. All of a sudden little Kate is the perfect match for the young Duke of Buckingham.
The novel takes us through the viewpoints of both Katherine and Harry all throughout their lives. We have front row seats to their marriage as children, growing up together, finally discovering their love for each other and eventually having children. Along the way we are treated to their lives at King Edward IV’s court and all the secrecy and scheming that goes with that. We find out that Henry Stafford was never a favorite of King Edward IV and this made him very resentful; enough that when given the chance he sides with King Edward IV’s brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester which ultimately leads to his downfall.
When King Edward IV dies from a short lived illness his son Edward is next in line to the throne with his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester and Harry Stafford guiding him until he is of age. However this isn’t good enough for Richard who looks for every way possible to take over the throne until he succeeds and in the process two of King Edward IV’s sons disappear from The Tower and to this day nobody really knows what happened to them.
My favorite character by far was Kate in the novel. As a young girl she is quite amusing and as an adult woman she is strong and intelligent. Harry I liked as well although I wish he hadn’t been so blinded by Richard most of his life. By the time he realized who and what Richard really was it was too late for him. I have to say that I am glad I didn’t live in this time period. It was so uncertain. As long as you were in favor with the King you were living high on a cloud but let that be jeopardized in any way and all of a sudden you and your family were at risk of being imprisoned or worse – killed.
I enjoy how Susan Higginbotham makes these characters come to life for her readers. I felt for them – their joys and their sadness. At the end of the novel she gives her reasons for taking the routes she does within the book because some are different from what is popular. I like that about her; that she takes the facts and then can give us such a believable tale of what things might have been like in this time and place. If you love historical fiction then The Stolen Crown is a must read!
I read The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham for her blog tour so make sure and check out Susan’s blog for other tour stops and her website for more information on all of her books. The Stolen Crown was released by Sourcebooks on March 1, 2010 and can be purchased here in the US and here in Canada.
My thanks…to Danielle with Sourcebooks for my review copy of The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham.