Wow, this book took forever to read.
This book is ostensibly about Eleanor (de Clare) le Despenser. Eleanor de Clare is the grand-daughter of Edward I, favorite niece of Edward II and becomes the wife of Hugh le Despenser (who becomes the lover of Edward II). This book starts when Eleanor is 13 and ends at her death, and mostly involves the reign of Edward II and later, Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer.
I didn't/don't know much about the reigns of Edward I/II/III, so I am glad I read this (and spent hours crawling through Wikipedia to learn more), but I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book to anyone.
Higginbotham clearly did her research, unfortunately, she spent more time on naming characters (full names, pet names, the ever-changing claim-names) and not enough time on character development *or* descriptions.
I feel like the novel would have been better with a whole lot more people and a lot more descriptions of the scene and life at the time. Because of the huge cast of characters and the complexity of court life and politics at the time, I spent quite a bit of time confused, and not really enjoying the story.
The story *did* get better after Eleanor's husband died, but then, there was a lot less going on.
I dunno.. plenty of good history, too many characters and no characterizations, too much confusion, and no one was developed well enough for me to really care about anyone.
I think I was supposed to like Eleanor, but she mostly baffled me. Without a sign of her supposed attraction to her King Uncle, she discovers he is her husband's lover! and throws off her clothes to sleep with him. Wha? Random stuff like that pops up everywhere. There's no motivation, there's no sense of purpose or sympathy, and the main character is pretty unbelievable (for such a shrewd woman, she sure does miss a lot).
Meh. I didn't hate it, but I wouldn't tell anyone else to try it out. At least I got a good history lesson out of it.