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The Stolen Crown: The Secret Marriage that…

The Stolen Crown: The Secret Marriage that Forever Changed the Fate of… (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Susan Higginbotham

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3352332,882 (3.65)14
Title:The Stolen Crown: The Secret Marriage that Forever Changed the Fate of England
Authors:Susan Higginbotham
Info:Sourcebooks Landmark (2010), Edition: 1, Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library, Books, Never Read, Kindle Edition

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The Stolen Crown: The Secret Marriage that Forever Changed the Fate of England by Susan Higginbotham (Author) (2010)

  1. 10
    The Tudor Rose: The Story of the Queen Who United a Kingdom and Birthed a Dynasty by Margaret Campbell Barnes (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Both are about the Wars of the Roses with different (partially overlapping) focus. Stolen Crown is about Katherine Woodville & Edward IV's reign. The Tudor Rose focuses largely on Henry VII coming into power.
  2. 00
    To Hold the Crown by Jean Plaidy (sensitivemuse)

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The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham
The Secret Marriage That Forever Changed the Fate of England

Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 400
Publication date: March 1st 2010

Trapped in the Wars of the Roses, one woman finds herself sister to the queen...and traitor to the crown

When six-year-old Kate Woodville’s beautiful sister Elizabeth makes a shocking—and secret—marriage to King Edward IV, Kate and her large family are whisked to the king’s court. Soon a bedazzled Kate becomes one of the greatest ladies in the land when she marries young Harry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. But Kate’s fairy-tale existence as a duchess is shattered when the ongoing conflict between the houses of Lancaster and York engulfs the Woodville family.

As Edward IV fights to keep his crown, Harry’s relatives become hopelessly divided between Lancaster and York. Forced constantly to struggle with his own allegiances, Harry faces his defining moment when his dear friend Richard, Duke of Gloucester, determines to seize the throne for himself as Richard III. With lives in jeopardy and nothing less than a dynasty at stake, Harry’s loyalties—and his conscience—will be put to the ultimate test.

Ever since I read a review of Hugh and Bess I have wanted to read Higginbotham, so when I got the chance I jumped at it. And I am happy to say that I did the right thing.

First of all I must say that she sure did an excellent job keeping all the different Edwards and Henrys and so on apart. I went in after having studied the long lists of names in the beginning and wondered how this would turn out. But she kept track of them all and she made sure that I as the reader could keep track of them all. Cos oh yes the War of the Roses was a messy time, and then I am not only talking about all the people. The twist and turns, the constant backstabbing, I am amazed that any nobleman got through all that without loosing his head, one way or another. And of course this book made me google, yes I could just not sit and read, I had to go google everyone so I would know things before they happened. Things that had happened long ago, trace lineages, oh this book was a treat for the history addict that I am. You know what, I will go google again after this. I want to know more, because even if I knew things (evil Richard screaming my kingdom for a horse), that was pretty much it.

This book takes place at the center stage but at the same time not on it. It is the story about Katherine Woodville. Her sister married king Edward IV and that shook the country. They thought she was too lowborn, which in a way does not make much sense, except for on her fathers side. But certain people had other plans for the king. Then he married away her siblings and Katherine became Duchess of Buckingham. Fast forward a bit, fighting with the Neville family, fighting with his brother the duke of Clarence, fighting with the French, fighting with the old king and his entourage, and then he died. Which leads to the princes in the Tower, Richard III, and England's savior Henry Tudor. Then finally the civil war could end and York and Lancaster was reunited. This all the reader experiences through Kate's and Harry's eyes.

Higginbotham managed to bring forth a troubled time in England's history and make it come alive. I love an author that can do that, and she did an excellent job. She made me want to know more, and history felt so real.

I really liked Kate, and I felt kind of sorry for her because some historian hasn't really had nice things to say about her, they made her marriage sound awful, and of course there are tons of rumors about her family. Witchcraft and so on. But after the way Richard III seized the throne no wonder. And she kept her hope up even after loosing so many of her kin. I truly liked the way she was shown. Same goes with Harry, even if he made some foolish choices. And it was nice to follow them from when they were kids. And they have such a nice life together, I liked their lovestory. In the end no one can tell what really happened in their marriage, but I do believe this story.

Higginbotham stayed true to the era with everything. She has done her research and it shows. She managed to incorporate the rumors for what they were, rumors about "famous" people.

I am happy to have read this book, and after such a great historical book I really feel that I must read her previous novel, Hugh and Bess. This is a book that history fans will enjoy a great deal.

For the rest of you, well this story has romance, betrayal, war, backstabbing, political intrigue, wicked rumors and all those other things that any reader loves to read about. This book is for everyone in that aspect. Oh and you learn a lot!

Blodeuedd's Cover Corner: It feels like the genre
Reason for reading: A copy from the publisher
Final thoughts: I recommend it

( )
  blodeuedd | Mar 2, 2016 |
Once again, Susan Higginbotham delivers just the right balance of history and fiction by creating a seamless blend of her characters' private lives, motives and passions, and political events and historical background.

The book follows the live of Katherine Woodville, youngest sister of Elizabeth, Edward IV's wife. I liked this take on the Woodville family, for once not the grasping powerhungry pack of opportunists, but a family who where suddenly punching above their league amongst the old aristocratic houses of England, and who all dealt with it in different ways. The characters were wonderfully well developed and very believable, their actions plausible. Of course, there can be differing opinions on the role of Richard III (there always are!), but this version suits the story and is well thought out.

Like all of Higginbotham's work, this is a well researched book and contains excellent historical detail. As always, the she provides a detailed author's note, separating what is fact, what is opinion and what is fiction. This book is all that historical fiction should be: informative, entertaining and an inspiration to learn more. ( )
  SabinaE | Jan 23, 2016 |
Set at the end of the Wars of the Roses and spanning the reigns of Kings Edward IV and Richard III, The Stolen Crown brings to life a tumultuous period in English history from the perspectives of two of the people who witnessed many of its defining moments first hand - Katherine Woodville, younger sister of Elizabeth Woodville, Edward IV's Queen, and Harry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, one of England's preeminent noblemen. When her sister marries the king, Kate goes from being the mere daughter of a knight to the sister-in-law of the king, a situation that greatly improves her marital prospects. As a result, it is not long before Kate is married to the young Duke of Buckingham, a ward of the Queen's whose family has ties to the Lancasters. Although married very young, Kate and Harry's union is a successful and, despite a somewhat rocky start, loving one. When Edward IV suddenly dies, leaving a young son as his heir, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, takes the governing of England into his own hands and names himself king. When Harry, who has idolized the Richard since childhood, joins Richard's cause, it tears his relationship with Kate apart. In the end, Kate must fight not only to save her marriage, but also to help bring down the man who stole the crown from her nephew.

Higginbotham's attention to historical detail is one of the greatest strengths of The Stolen Crown. As a result, the reader is immersed in a novel that gives a great sense of both time and place, two elements very important to the success of a work of historical fiction. Higginbotham's attention to historical detail is complemented by her well-drawn characters. I particularly enjoyed the development of both Kate and Harry, not only as individuals but also as a couple. Elizabeth Woodville, who is often vilified in fiction, comes across in a positive light and I liked how Higginbotham chose to portray her. I also enjoyed her characterization of the formidable Margaret Beaufort, whose appearances in the novel are brief but memorable. The only issue I have with The Stolen Crown lies with Higginbotham's depiction of Richard III. While there is much debate over Richard's character, his rise to the throne and the fate of the princes in the tower (Edward IV's sons), my views of the much maligned monarch do not mesh with how he is characterized in this novel. As such, I was a little put off by his portrayal, at least in the second half of the book, as nothing but a power hungry tyrant willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his own ends. Although I take issue with Higginbotham's portrayal of Richard III, this fact did not diminish my enjoyment of the novel. Higginbotham's excellent Author's Note presents the case for her portrayal of all the characters featured in the book.

Overall, The Stolen Crown is a great novel and is highly recommended to fans of historical fiction, especially those set in England. ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 16, 2016 |
In choosing to write from the alternating perspectives of the Duke and Duchess of Buckingham, Kate Woodville and Harry Stafford, Higginbotham is able to bring a “personal” view to historical events during the reigns of Edward IV through Richard III. Additionally, seeing through Kate’s eyes gives a more humanizing look at the Woodville family than any book of the period I’d previously read. Although a work of fiction, Higginbotham brings an interesting interpretation to the motivations of the major players during this tumultuous time. I appreciated her note at the end of the book detailing what was based on historical evidence versus what were elaboration/fabrication, as well as an explanation of how she came up with her portrayal of the various players. This is the first book I’ve read by the author. I’ll certainly be reading others. ( )
  Bluebird1 | Jan 14, 2016 |
This book solidifies this author’s mastery at world building and historical details for me. Her intimate research on the events of the turbulent Wars of the Roses and how it impacted the various parties involved shines through. It was intriguing to see how these events impacted such young individuals as our leads and how they molded their characters and outlook on life.

Characterization was a strong suit for this author in the previous book I read by her, and this one is no different. Her characters seem to just walk off the page in their complexity and bigger-than-life personalities. Even the secondary individuals like Margaret Beaufort were as strong as the leads. I found myself thrilled to see Harry and Kate grow with the times and events presented, growing from the innocence of early childhood to the jaded reality that was late medieval England politics. The author gets the voices down well for both stages in life and everything in between.

My only glitch with this book is the beginning third; it seems more like a told-scene non-fiction work rather than a fictional account of real events. There was a ton of dates and figures presented in such a way that it read like non-fiction, with occasional spurts of fictional scenes for flavor. I’m not sure if it was because the main leads were so young, Kate as young as 4, that it was hard to tell the story as flavorfully as an adult POV would allow. But I had a hard time getting through that first third, at times.

With great characterization and historical world building, this book is a pretty good addition to Higginbotham’s body of work. The first third can read slowly at times with the excessive use of told scenes and non-fictional accounts, but that doesn’t weigh down the story overall. Definitely a fine read to immerse yourself into. ( )
  Sarah_Gruwell | Jan 14, 2016 |
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Katherine Woodville's sister never gave her a choice. A happy girl of modest means, Kate hardly expected to become a maker of kings, but when her sister impulsively marries King Edward IV in secret, Katherine's life is no longer hers to control.

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Sourcebooks Landmark

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