Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hugh and Bess

I finished this book by Susan Higginbotham and I've had some trouble getting to blog about this.  With two kids, one who is disabled and one an infant, I don't often find the time to sit down and write.  Also I was reading a few other books but never finished because they just didn't capture my attention.  I have noticed an influx of Tudor novels and I used to devour them all as soon as I got my hands on one.  Now it is starting to feel like everyone has written about it, and the same person by multiple authors.  I am trying to branch out a little more and cover other time periods so I hope to gain more of an audience or following. 

Overview:  Bess de Montacute is the daughter of The earl of Salisbury, William de Montacute.  He was a friend of the second King Edward and was disgraced to see the Queen Isabella and her lover Mortimer ruling the kingdom and killing many.  Along with other men, William helped to put Mortimer in jail and later he was hanged.  For being loyal to the King and his son, William became an earl and his wife a countess.  Also intertwined in this story is Hugh le Despenser.  His grandfather and father had served King Edward faithfully; his father was thought to be the very close companion to the King.  Because of her hatred towards her husband and his relationship, Queen Isabella could no longer tolerate it and took revenge on the barons.  Now, King Edward had had another favorite before the younger Hugh but Piers Gaveston was killed.  After seeing another favorite that is what seemed to break the Queen.  After finding Mortimer, the two lovers conspired to oust Edward and the Despensers from the throne.  Queen Isabella was able to depose Edward her husband from the throne and became regent for her son Edward III.  Some believe she was responsible for planning the murder of the King as well.  In 1330 her son had his vengeance, and took his throne and killed his mother's lover Mortimer.  That is where Bess's dad helped and was rewarded.  Queen Isabella was not killed but imprisoned and ended her days away from Court.  During the time that the King was killed, so also was his favorite Hugh.  His son Hugh le Despenser was also in danger following his father's death, but held out at Caerphilly castle.  Over the next few months Queen Isabel and Mortimer tried to entice him out or capture him.  When he was offered that his own life be spared, he finally left the castle and surrendered.  Over the next four years he would be imprisoned. 

Because of their new standings, Bess's father arranges her marriage to Hugh le Despenser.  When she first hears of it she is not pleased.  He is the son and grandson of disgraced traitors.  For him this is an advantageous marriage, a chance to reestablish his family's good name.  Hugh and Bess marry when she is just 13 and over time and his good treatment of her, they fall in love.  Part of the book goes over the history of Bess's family and then a lot of Hugh's as well as his imprisonment and prior years.  The plague threatens them and many perish, including Hugh.  The book ends with Bess finding another husband to marry after she has grieved.  Another character to take note of is Joan of Kent; she was married to Bess's brother William Montacute, for a time.  She is also later the mother of Richard II and many other monarchs.

My Thoughts:  The book was somewhat interesting at first because I had already heard about Isabella and Mortimer and wanted to see what the son of the traitor was like.  The love story was also sweet in a way, but the age difference between the two made it seem a little implausible.  I was not happy about Hugh's mistress getting in the way and later becoming a close friend of Bess's.  Seemed strange that any woman would embrace her husband's mistress of many years as a friend and confidante.  The book overall was not engrossing enough, quick paced or enough narrative for me.  I didn't fall in love with the characters or become invested in them.  I preferred the author's other book The Stolen Crown.

No comments:

Post a Comment