Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hugh and Bess: A Love Story by Susan Higginbotham

"A delightful novel full of chivalry, romance, and real-life terrors."
Historical Novels Review

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.

Fiction or non-fiction? Genre? Historical Fiction.

What led you to pick up this book? Received a review copy, but have been meaning to read this book for a while.

Summarize the plot, but don’t give away the ending! See above...

What did you like most about the book? I think the thing that really struck me about this novel was that even though it was rather short page-wise, I found myself becoming very drawn to the characters. Even though I roughly knew what was going to happen, when it actually happened I felt how I was supposed to about the events as they played out. Susan writes characters that I could easily relate to. I wanted more when the book was done, but obviously she was limited by the facts and could only tell the story that we think actually happened. I really enjoyed the book overall.

What did you like least? I didn't have any major problems with this book. I found it readable and enjoyed the story overall. I think it struck me as young adultish and I wouldn't mind a bit more adult, but considering that the book starts when Bess was rather young it worked for the book. So, really, I don't have anything overly bad to complain about.

Have you read any other books by this author? What did you think of those books? Nope. I plan to read her other book, though. I have owned it for a while, but haven't had a chance to read it.

What did you think of the main character? I really liked Hugh. He had a rough life, but he grew into his character well. Was he perfect? Of course not. He tried to be the best person he could be, though, and I found myself really liking him. Susan wrote him well, too, so that helped. Bess, on the other hand, got on my nerves once in a while. She was okay once she grew up a bit and became more matured, but in the beginning I didn't think I was going to like her. She was acting her age, though, so I suppose it is not really any ones fault. By the end of the book I liked her. I suppose that is the important thing. I really felt for both Hugh and Bess.

What about the ending? The ending is not really anything to do with the author. She was limited to what happened in real life, so what can I complain about. I think that she chose a good time in Bess' life to end it, though. Anymore than that would've been taking away from the overall story. The historical notes helped answer any questions that you might have, but they were not things that she needed to cover in the novel. It was the story of Hugh and Bess, which is what is covered.

I recommend this book! I am determined to read her other book now.


  1. I have recently purchased both The Traitor's Wife and Hugh and Bess. After reading your review I will push Hugh and Bess up the list and start reading it next week! Great review!

  2. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it! This is next on my tbr pile. It's always nice when a short novel can still make you attached to the characters and care what happens to them.

  3. I loved your thoughts but I have to read Traitor's Wife first!!!

  4. great review! I've heard good things about this one.

  5. I enjoyed this too (my review is due to be posted on 11 August). Like you, I took a liking to Hugh :-)

  6. Having read The Traitor's Wife last week I am looking forward to this.

    From this review I am glad that I read the first book first- I liked Hugh in Traitor's Wife and will be glad to see how his life works out.

  7. I agree that the characters are fascinating and draw you in right away. I hope you enjoy The Traitor's Wife. I thought it was great.

    Diary of an Eccentric