The Traitor's Wife: A Novel of the Reign of Edward II
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The Traitor's Wife: A Novel of the Reign of Edward II

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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  2,204 ratings  ·  264 reviews
"Conveys emotions and relationships quite poignantly.entertaining historical fiction."-Kirkus Discoveries
"The dialogue is excellent, the characters are well formed and vibrant.Higginbotham's talents lie not only in her capacity for detailed genealogical research of the period, but also in her skill in bringing these historical figures to life with passion, a wonderful sens...more
Paperback, 499 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published July 25th 2005)
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Dawn (& Ron)
Nov 08, 2011 Dawn (& Ron) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: medeival fiction readers, historical fiction readers
Recommended to Dawn (& Ron) by: Jemidar, Misfit
I was so eager to dig in and begin this book, especially with the endorsements of friends and a bit of help from the author herself (helping me to choose which book of hers to start with). I was beyond frustrated that it took me two months to read. Let me explain, it wasn't the fault of the book but life that got in the way. I tried to read a few pages here and there but you can’t do that with this book. You need, and want, to have time to spend with Eleanor de Clare, her family and their lives,...more
Monique
Wow...my first five star book of the year and it was a free, relatively unheard of book that I was introduced to through my Kindle..and I loved it, not only did it introduce a entire of host of characters in a new dynasty equally as fascinating as the Tudors but seamlessly told the tale of an extrodinary woman, her life,loves against the backdrop of thirteenth century England constantly at war with Scotland and itself..This book was longer and way more detailed than I expected and I thoroughly e...more
Michele
I am very picky about historical fiction.

I like my historical fiction very, very well-researched. Don't mess with known history or rearrange timelines just to fit a plot. Don't over-modernize the dialogue. And above all, do NOT dumb it down just to appeal to a vapid audience.

Well, I am here to shout it from the rooftops that author Susan Higginbotham does none of the above. And she does is very, very well.

The Traitor's Wife recounts the reign of England's King Edward II, as seen through the eyes...more
Anna
Rating: 3.5 stars

This book was incredibly well researched. Before reading it, I knew nothing of the reigns of Edwards I, II and III, and as I was reading, I was sure a lot of it was made up by the author; there was so much plotting, scheming, betrayal, greed, power, adultery, manipulation, revenge, murder and general downright crazy, that it could dwarf even the maddest American daytime soap! But no, almost all of this book is true. As a regular Tudor and War of the Roses reader, I’m not shocked...more
Misfit
This is a fascinating tale of treachery and intrigue, focusing on the life of Eleanor De Clare who married Hugh le Despenser. Hugh's ambitions embroil him in the life of Edward II of England and eventually lead to his downfall. As several reviewers have already summed up the story, I need not recap it again.

This is a complicated tale, with many characters with the same names so you do have to pay close attention, although the author does provide a list of characters at the front of the book. Th...more
Christy B
I ventured into uncharted territory picking up this book. I had never gone back this far in either fiction or non fiction. The farthest I ever went back beforehand was the 1600s. And I'm not very educated in English history before the 1800s, so I learned a lot. One of the things that is great about historical fiction, is that you end up wanting to learn more about the people and events you're reading about. That's what happened here, I learned about a period of history I wasn't educated in befor...more
Hiba
This book had so much promise.

When I got this book I was flipping out with joy. I started it right away and didn't even put it down.

Sadly.... I never finished it because when I reached page 400 I couldn't continue.

I was really pissed because the beginning was great and so much shit happened that ruined the book.

I was really confused. The author made everyone Eleanor magically fall in love with her. Seriously, even the gay ones! Like the author kept dropping hints about some kind of secret love b...more
Simmonsmry
In 'The Traitor's Wife: A Novel of the Reign of Edward II' author Susan Higginbotham follows the life of Eleanor de Clare from the time she marries Hugh le Despenser in 1306 to her death in 1337. The years in between are full of challenges, which the title character rises to admirably. She is portrayed as a loyal, passionate woman who loves her husband, her children and her king. She will do whatever she can to protect them. Even when her efforts fail and she is faced with tremendous loss, she m...more
Orsolya
Most people know the reign of Edward II to be filled with homosexual relationships, a “She-Wolf”, and a supposed murder with a red-hot spit. How much of this is true? Although we may never know precisely, Susan Higginbotham explores this topic in “The Traitor’s Wife” with the main viewpoint being of Hugh Despenser’s wife: Eleanor.

Disappointingly, “The Traitor’s Wife” begins with a rather slow kick and pace. Although the novel is from the perspective of Eleanor le Despenser (nee de Clare); a myri...more
Jenny
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lesley
This was NOT an easy read! With 5 Isabella/Isabel's, 4 Hugh's, 4 Joan's, 4 Edwards, 4 Eleanor's and the largest cast of characters I've ever encountered between the pages of one book - it was enough to put my reading sanity on edge. I finally started to get the characters straight about 2/3 of the way through (thank goodness for the Character index in the front of the book).

This story basically starts where the movie Braveheart left off during the reign of Edward II. Everything unfolds through t...more
Christina
I have conflicting thoughts on this book. This is an incredible period of history, that at times it seems it is filled with nothing but villains. It is a period that I think a lot of people shy away from in historical fiction. As such, this is a great book in that it tackles this difficult era. Especially as it is told mainly from the viewpoint of the wife of the main villain. Eleanor de Clare was a granddaughter of a king and niece to the current one, Edward II. She married into a prominent fam...more
Kimberly Sue
My original review of this novel is on my blog; http://historicalfictionobsession.blo...

This is definitely one of my top ten historical fiction picks. I had never read a book that really gave you the dirty, DETAILED details of what was going on with Edward II of England. Yeah, I read Braveheart, and it hinted at the debauchery that was going on with Edward II and Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despenser, and there have been other books that mentioned that he was a homosexual, but this book really went...more
Steven Peterson
This is, as it were, the prequel to Higginbotham's book "Hugh and Bess." I rather prefer the latter, but this volume is also well written. At one level, it is the story of the marriage of Eleanor de Clare to Hugh le Despenser (the younger). Eleanor's uncle, Edward II, is also a key player as well as Edward's Queen--Isabella.

The dangers of the royal court are displayed, as well as the secrets of Edward II. One key line, the words of Hugh le Despenser to Eleanor (Page 38): "What nonsense! You are...more
Cheryl
Loved it, loved it, loved it! I'm so glad I finished it because I was getting absolutely no sleep and my husband has been grumbling about how he had been ignored over the past several days.

The story of Eleanor and Hugh le Despenser was magnificent. Full of real alive characters, humor, sadness, skullduggery, romance, and more political twists and turns than the Clinton/Bush administrations!

Anyone can read the book description so I'm not going to bother with a synopsis. It would be a waste of you...more
Sara
Susan Higginbotham tells of the reign and aftermath of Edward the II in her steamy THE TRAITOR’S WIFE. The action is revealed mainly through the perspective of Eleanor le Despenser, Edward’s favorite niece and wife of the notorious traitor Hugh as suggested by the title. Higginbotham’s Eleanor is fiercely devoted and gracefully traverses the challenges of corruption, intrigue and betrayal that only the Royal Court can provide.

The novel is well researched, most of the main action being either ba...more
Carey
Eleanor de Clare was a privileged young woman. Born into a titled family and the grand-daughter of Edward I, she was married at an early age to a young man with whom she fell madly in love, Hugh le Despenser.

In The Traitor's Wife, Susan Higginbotham tells the complex tale of the reign of King Edward II, through the eyes of Eleanor, his niece. Edward II has a very close, rumored to be intimate, relationship with a young knight, Piers Gaveston. Once Edward takes the throne, Pier's rise in wealth a...more
April
Free Kindle download. I must say, this book has been a very, very, very slow read for me. I think I started this months and months ago and have finally completed it. For the first half of this book, I could not for the life of me stay engaged. I found the vast number of characters, many of them with the same names (a genealogist's dream and nightmare both), to be somewhat confusing, and I had a hard time caring for any of them enough to keep reading. This is one of those books where I would make...more
Rio (Lynne)
What a story! This covers the reign of Edward II through his niece Eleanor De Clare. She marries Hugh le Despenser, one of Edward's favorites and through greed becomes the traitor's wife. The debauchery, passion, arrogance, back stabbing and cruelty of these times kept me from putting this book down. Higginbotham moved me, made me tear up and even shocked me at times. Not something many authors can do. Those of us familiar with this time in history know how cruel it was, but the author's descrip...more
Celestem
4 1/2 stars.
A straightforward historical fiction book that focuses on Eleanor deClare (or Clare), granddaughter of Edward I and niece of Edward II, who would become Hugh Despenser's wife. Fascinating details of the time period which span the early 1300's. We learn about Edward and Isabella's reign, Edward's lovers (with Eleanor's husband being one), the relationship between France/England and England/Scotland. Interesting to see how marriages were forged, how land was accumulated, and how women...more
Thalia
I have been eagerly anticipating reading this which is why I included it on my challenge shelf. I must say I wasn't disappointed...mostly. It helps perhaps that I know virtually nothing about this time period so it was all new to me. I think the author did a good job of conveying the story and I liked it when she would add little bits like how so and so would be important later on (as a narrator). The weakness of the story isn't easily discussed without spoilers. Suffice it to say that there are...more
Cathy
After reading "Forever Queen", I was looking for historical fiction from the time frame 1100 to 1300's A.D. This book takes place in that time frame. Unfortunately, I'm at 39% on the Kindle and think it's time to quit this book and find a different one. This book had almost no character development, no development of scene or costume, no true feeling of what it was like to live in those times. Aside from the fact that they ride horses and wear headdresses,the dialogue could have taken place any...more
Sabrina
This book took me forever to get through. I do enjoy historical fiction, which is why I chose this book to begin with, and it seemed the author did her homework. However, the first half was so difficult to muddle through that I was very very close to drop it and stop reading. I found the writing did not flow. There were a lot of characters that seemed superfluous and all the similar names made it confusing to follow. I thought that her transition between events was choppy and many times I wonder...more
Amy S
Hmmm. What to say. Basically, this story follows Eleanor de Clare, in 1300s England, married to Hugh le Despenser. She is the niece to King Edward 2. It is very well researched, very detailed, but to me, pretty boring. And really gross. Here's how it went:

A. The King's male lover is executed.
B. The King takes up Eleanor's husband as his lover.
C. Eleanor gets mad when she finds out, so she begins to have an incestuous relationship with the King. Did I mention that's her uncle? The one already h...more
Carla Nayland
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elis Madison
I almost didn't finish this one, not because it wasn't good (despite adverb abuse to the point of using words like "superiorly"), but because I knew what happened to some of the primary characters in this book and it wasn't pretty.



Eleanor de Clare was married to Hugh Despenser at a young age; by birth she was far above him, but her father owed his money, so the marriage was approved. She was the niece of Edward II and sister-in-law to the notorious Piers Gaveston, Edward's purported lover.

Accor...more
Janee
I am completely surprised that a historical fiction novel could be such a page turner. There were a lot of characters to keep up with but the main ones were definitely intriguing. There is so much drama in this one book, I just could not wait to finish and see what happens with everyone. Even though it is a longer novel, it is well worth the time.
Chelsea Hoffman
This book was really fascinating to me in the beginning. I loved learning about the relationships between all of the characters and historical figures since I didn't know much about this time period before. I made it through the first half pretty quickly, but I started to really struggle with the pain and suffering in the book. I actually ended up not reading the rest when I realized the depressing mood of the book was affecting me more than I wanted it to. I read a few reviews that said it got...more
Linda
This book was incredible,well written, engaging and gripping, loved it.
Audrey Grant
This is a case of "If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all."
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I am the author of two historical novels set in fourteenth-century England: The Traitor's Wife: A Novel of the Reign of Edward II and Hugh and Bess. Both were reissued in 2009 by Sourcebooks.

My third novel, The Stolen Crown, is set during the Wars of the Roses. It features Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, and his wife, Katherine Woodville, as narrators. My fourth novel, The Queen of Last Hopes,...more
More about Susan Higginbotham...
The Stolen Crown: The Secret Marriage that Forever Changed the Fate of England Hugh and Bess: A Love Story The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou Her Highness, the Traitor The Woodvilles: The Wars of the Roses and England's Most Infamous Family

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