Friday, August 28, 2009

Book Review: HUGH AND BESS by Susan Higginbotham

As many of you know I have been dying to read this one, and with good reason. Hugh and Bess is now a new favorite. Susan Higginbotham gave me just what I needed, lately I have felt that I could not settle on a read. I felt Blah, Hugh and Bess snapped me out of my funk.

Elizabeth (nicknamed Bess), her father was given the title of lord Salisbury. After he aided king Edward III in taking power from his mother (Isabella of France) and executing her lover Rodger Mortimer. The daughter of a respected and admired lord. Early in life she was remotely married and later widowed all before she was twelve. Leaving her to be remarried should the right opportunity arise.

Hugh Le Despenser shared his father and grandfathers name. He was lucky that he did not share their same fate. Both were executed by queen Isabella for their involvement with the then disposed king Edward II. Hugh's father was Edward II's lover and in being so he incurred the wrath of the queen. His father had left young Hugh to hold his own while his father took off with the king hoping to get him back on his throne. Isabella tried to get Hugh but his loyal servants and him held fast. Eventually Isabella reached a stand off and had negotiated with him that she would spare his life . Which was a joke because she locked him up . He was only released upon Edward III's take over in power and the execution of his mothers lover. His future father in law unknowingly helped in his release.

Upon his release he worked hard to rebuild his name, he served the king faithfully. It was purposed by the king himself that Hugh should marry Bess, Salisbury's young widowed daughter. Hugh would have been content in his current living situation, with his known mistress. He loved his mistress Emma but knew he could never marry her. Hugh quit Emma and devoted himself to Bess fully. Bess on the other hand had her own ideas of him and their impending marriage. In the beginning it was a love hate relationship with Bess refusing her "wifely duties" with Hugh. Which I found very amusing, she was very stubborn.

After hitting many speed bumps in the marriage they finally came together and they truly loved each other. Time is so precious with the ones we hold close at night. Bess would find that out once the "pestilence" (black plague) arrived in England. All across the country people were dropping dead like flies, some even committing suicide out of fear. Would Bess's world crumble under the pestilence or can love truly conquer all?

5/5 muses, a new favorite, and highly recommended. I loved how Susan portrayed her characters, her vivid storytelling made the novel seamless and it flowed all the way to the end. I did really enjoy her spin on Joan of Kent, a spoiled brat. I have found a new favorite author. Since I read this in two days I have to say it was more than good it was amazing and not a fluffy read!

"Forced to marry Hugh le Despenser, the son and grandson of disgraced traitors, Bess de Montacute, just 13 years old, is appalled at his less-than-desirable past. Meanwhile, Hugh must give up the woman he really loves in order to marry the reluctant Bess. Far apart in age and haunted by the past, can Hugh and Bess somehow make their marriage work?
Just as walls break down and love begins to grow, the merciless plague endangers all whom the couple holds dear, threatening the life and love they have built.
Award-winning author Susan Higginbotham's impeccable research will delight avid historical fiction readers, and her enchanting characters will surely capture every reader's heart. Fans of her first novel, The Traitor's Wife, will be thrilled to find that this story follows the next generation of the Despenser family."


  1. Thanks for the novel, it really was a great read. Now I am onto The Traitors Wife.

  2. Sounds really fascinating! I cover Hugh LeDespenser as a villain in my nonfiction (ROYAL AFFAIRS) in the chapter on Edward II and his numerous male favorites (including Hugh) and Isabella of France and her lover, Roger Mortimer.

  3. Another great review Liz, I'm glad you finally got a chance to read it, I know it was on your wishlist for a while! How cool that Susan Higginbotham and Leslie Carroll commented, and I saw that Susan liked your Bess painting as well (how could she not)! I really want to read both of Susan's books, they will be some of the next ones I read for sure. I LOVED Leslie's (you may already know that she goes by the pen name Amanda Elyot for her historical fiction books) Too Great A Lady: The Notorious, Glorious Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton. I wrote a post about Emma Hamilton a while back and it was Leslie's book that got me interested in her. It is very well written (from the point of view of Emma herself, Cockney accent and all...). I would really recommend it, I think you would like it!! Thanks for the Hugh and Bess review, I'm now totally convinced it will have to be one of my next reads!

  4. Susan did a post on it too, Crazy right! Now I want to read her other novel "The Traitors Wife". She is an awesome author.

    I love Leslie she is really cool. She offered to make Mary Queen of Scots a voice. I have been talking with her a lot lately. I can not wait until her book arrives so I can devourer it. "Notorious royal Affairs".

    You will love "Hugh and Bess", I swear it. It is right up your alley.

  5. Good morning, ladies! can you believe I almost wrote "Happy Monday!"? I "lost" a day this week because I went down to Philadelphia to see the Napoleon exhibit at the Constitution Center for a second time! It is so comprehensive that I didn't get through all of it on my first trip down there. I blogged about the exhibit on I was amazingly moved by the lock of Josephine's hair that is on display.

    And Allie ...! I didn't realize you were such a fan, too! I can't tell you how moved I am that you fell in love with Emma Hamilton because of TOO GREAT A LADY. Not only is that the sort of thing that can make a writer's day (week, month, life), but I fell in love with Emma years ago, so much so that I just had to tell her story.

  6. Leslie, I saw it on your blog and was mesmerized by it also. I swear if I do not have a calender I have no idea what day I am on half the time.

    Emma has sparked my interest too and now that Allie loved it I know it has to be great.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...