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Margaret of Anjou was married to King Henry VI of England. When Henry was grasped by bouts of insanity that made him an unsuitable ruler for England, Margaret stepped in to take his place. Her motivation at that point of time was to keep the crown safe for her son, Edward of Westminster. I guess it would have been difficult to predict that this woman would some day become one of the most important player in the War of Roses. In this book Susan Higginbotham tells us Margaret’s story, a view-point which has been some what if not completely lacking in historical fiction.
Margaret has often been portrayed in various historical fiction as a supporting character, mostly painted in a negative shade, hence a story that is told from her point of view only makes the book more interesting. Higginbotham’s Margret is a strong-willed, intelligent woman who does what she feels is in the best interest of her family. Her motives and actions seem to be justified when we look at things from her perspective. The war between Lancastrians and Yorkists which forms the backdrop and a major portion of the book is done very well.
Thoughts on the audio: The unabridged audio book version was narrated by Nicole Quinn. My fondness for this book is in parts due to my liking the way it was narrated. Nicole Quinn has done a great job and her vocal impression for Margret of Anjou through her adolescence to adulthood is wonderful. The voice of a teenager in love transitions to that of a confident woman in the seat of power and culminates with the wizened lady who has seen it all and survived to tell the tale. Each stage has been done with great finesse. I guess a good narrator only makes the book more of a joy to listen to!
I however feel, the length of the audio book might deter a few to venture in but let me assure you, once invested in to this book, you will hardly worry about length or any such. If you are like me and enjoy historical fiction, you shouldn’t miss out on this great take on War of the Roses.
Work keeps me busy these days and the idea of sitting with a book and especially historical fiction with all the names, places and dates isn’t something I look forward to but in the form of an audio book I can see myself listening to a lot more of my historical fiction favorite authors and not complain!
A well researched and a highly engaging story!
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Most of what I've read about the War of the Roses has been from the point of view of the Yorkists. The Queen of Last Hopes narrates the story from the Lancastrian queen Margaret of Anjou and it's quite different from the she-wolf that is portrayed in the Yorkist accounts. Higginbotham manages to make the reader care and sympathize with Margaret even tho she makes more than one mistake. Margaret's son, Edward who is also often portrayed as nothing but pure evil, is also given a less one dimensional personality. The story is told from Margaret, Henry VI, Edmund Beaufort, and Prince Edward's perspective. A less skilled writer would turn these many POVs into a mess, but in Higginbotham's book, it helps to tell the story, and give insight to the reader into the characters' minds and more importantly it does not feel as if they are all the same character. I plan to pick up more books from Higginbotham after having such a great experience with this story.
There are many characters to voice in this book and Quinn does a superb job at voicing each one of them and making them different. However, I did find Margaret's voice and French accent sounded a bit to forced and it seemed too slow for my taste. There are a couple of humorous moments in the book, and Quinn performance brings them to life providing a couple of chuckles in an otherwise quite serious reading. Overall, I enjoyed the performance, but I found the pacing a bit off.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to The Queen of Last Hopes again? Why?
I would happily listen to this again. This adds the gentle hand of compassion for a woman who was slandered for political gain. It adds a narrative not often explored within the genre.
What other book might you compare The Queen of Last Hopes to, and why?
I would Compare this to "The Stolen Crown" By Susan Higginbotham, both protagonists are handled sensitively although they represent opposing sides of the "war of the roses".
We are never plunged into petty malicious nonsense that some authors are partial to.
What about Nicole Quinn’s performance did you like?
It was so delicately handled I never thought of the narration being a narration, it sounded like i was listening to conversations.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
When you realise that the narrator is speaking from the perspective of one who is nearing the end of her life, all those tribulations are just what she has to comfort her.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful