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The Stolen Crown: The Secret Marriage that Forever Changed the Fate of England by [Higginbotham, Susan]
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4.1 out of 5 stars 233 customer reviews

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Length: 401 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Higginbotham's latest historical novel is set during England's turbulent War of the Roses. The title refers to King Edward IV's secret marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, which serves as catalyst to the exploits of the main characters, Woodville's younger sister Katherine and her first husband, Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. Great artistic license is taken in fictionalizing their marriage as a mostly happy one. Those without a strong knowledge of the period will find the book daunting, due to ever-changing alliances and the sheer number of characters, but more knowledgeable readers may find the fruits of Higginbotham's imagination more difficult to swallow. Higginbotham's Henry seems to wander through his life making impolitic outbursts to King Edward, hero-worshipping Richard, and, later, innocently led by Richard's machinations. The majority of the book is narrated by Katherine, whom historians know very little about; she makes an appealing heroine, and those who can suspend disbelief will sympathize quite strongly with this character and the plight of a noble woman in Medieval times.
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From Booklist

Higginbotham, author of The Traitor’s Wife (2009) and Hugh and Bess (2009), hits another historical high note in her latest fictional foray into the British monarchy. This time around, the Wars of the Roses provides the colorful backdrop for a plot oozing with romance, intrigue, and political maneuvering. When her older sister secretly marries King Edward IV, young Katherine Woodville’s life abruptly alters course. When Edward dies, both Kate’s fate and the fate of England are up for grabs as many royal insiders, jockeying for position, join forces with Edward’s younger brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, in an effort to seize the throne. Caught up in historical and societal circumstances beyond her control, Kate determines to do everything in her power to keep her family together. This fictional prelude to the Tudor era will appeal to fans of Philippa Gregory’s historicals. --Margaret Flanagan

Product Details

  • File Size: 2172 KB
  • Print Length: 401 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1402237669
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; 1 edition (March 1, 2010)
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00447872I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,153 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an unremarkable entry in the current flood of titles pertaining to England during the time of the Wars of the Roses. The two narrators, Katherine Woodville and her husband, Harry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, were players during the merry-go-round of turmoil surrounding the battle for power between the houses of York and Lancaster for the throne of England at the end of the 15th Century. There are LOTS of historical figures included in the tale, and for those unfamiliar with at least the basics of the events of the period, I fear they will be hopelessly muddled by all the players and their inter-relationships. The bigger problem for me, however, is that I am not of the belief that Richard of Gloucester is the craven murderer depicted here. The debate rages between historians as to whether Richard was the blackguard portrayed by Shakespeare (and the view held by this author) or the more admirable Richard whose reputation has lately been restored by the Ricardians. Personally, I am more a proponent of this latter viewpoint. Consequently, I was quickly disenchanted with the protagonists due to the hatred and malice they displayed toward Richard and their efforts to bring him down. All that aside, however, I found the writing flat and unevocative and there is nothing here that hasn't been done before and better. Finally, I have a personal gripe with bad grammar and poor English which crop up all too often in this novel. "What if the queen dies and leaves Richard a widow?" Huh? Or "He asked to let the boy ride pillion behind Harry and I." Gadzooks! Don't know whether to fault the author, her editor or a failure to proofread, but one would hope mistakes of this sort be limited to message boards and not be made by professional writers. Just MO, but these lapses seem indicative of the fairly haphazard overall effort this novel represents.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Susan Higginbotham's second major novel (I'm not counting the novella-length Hugh and Bess here) hearkens back to an older tradition of historical fiction, one associated with writers like Margaret Campbell Barnes, Jan Westcott or even Jean Plaidy, one characterized by a straightforward recounting of a straightforward series of historic events. That has its pros and its cons -- the "pros" including the fact that it's impeccably researched and detailed, the "cons" lying mostly in what isn't there, rather than what is.

At its heart, this is the story of a ill-fated trio: Harry, Duke of Buckingham by birth (but, with a Lancastrian background, kept out of the center of power); his friend, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, brother to the new Yorkist King, and the young Katherine Woodville, sister to the new Yorkist queen and chosen as Harry's wife by her new brother-in-law, the king. It's a tale of sharply divided loyalties -- not Kate's, as the cover seems to suggest, but rather those of Harry. For when, in 1483, King Edward IV dies unexpectedly leaving his 13-year-old son as heir, Harry is torn between his allegiance to his wife, and his vow to be a blood brother to Richard, who has ambitions of his own vis-a-vis the crown.

This would be a great introductory novel to read about the dramatic events of 1483 and why they proved so crucial to England's history. Higginbotham has a definite opinion of who the villains of the story are, and it's not the one that has dominated of late, making the tug-of-war over Harry's loyalties more compelling.
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Format: Paperback
This is another wonderful novel by Susan Higginbotham and it covers a very interesting and active period in British history - the Cousins War (or as we call it, the Wars of the Roses). Between the pages we get the story through the eyes of Katherine Woodville and her husband Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. We see from both points of view their marriage as children, their time at Edward IV's court, their life at home, the birth of their children, and Henry's involvement with Richard III.

The first half or so of the novel really focuses on their lives and how they both grow and mature in a very turbulent time. The second half of the novel seems to focus more on Henry's involvement with Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Personally I liked the first half of the novel more because I really enjoyed watching Kate and Henry grow and come to love and care for one another. The scenes between the two when they were young were very sweet and touching. Higginbotham takes on some of the "rumors" about their marriage and shows how they could have been started and why. I thoroughly enjoyed how she weaved these into the story. The author also explores reasons why Buckingham rebelled against Richard and gives her version of "the truth" behind the mystery of the princes in the Tower, which seems believable. Richard III is not shown in a glowing light here but he is not made into a horrible monster (though Kate despises him). We see a more ruthless side of him but it just seems to make him appear more of a man of a time where you had to be a bit ruthless to survive.

As always in Higginbotham's novels, the writing is wonderful, there are fantastic details and descriptions, and great character development.
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