Hugh and Bess: A Love Story
By Susan Higginbotham
Sourcebooks Landmark, 2009
About the Book
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.
I am not sure when or where I got this book, but I decided to pick it out of my collection and read it this month. I really enjoyed the way this novel was written. The author’s voice is very unique and as a result I couldn’t help but continue reading until I got to the end. There was never a dull moment or any parts that dragged or felt melodramatic. I fully “escaped” into Bess and Hughs’ world in my mind and it was a delight! It was a combination of history and love story mixed together. The closest thing I can compare it with is a story by Alexa Schnee titled Shakespeare’s Lady. You can find my review of Alexa’s book on Goodreads.
I loved the historical aspects of the novels and the way the author described the trials they faced during that time. If your family was wealthy, a spouse was chosen for you. Typically it was to increase the other family’s estate. Bess was so young and so against the marriage at first, but she did as she was told. Like many mail-order-bride stories, she had a period of time to get to know him before their relationship became physical, mainly due to her young age. I enjoyed experiencing the budding love between them and how they grew to respect each other. The time period was during the era when the Black Death (or Pestilence) was ripping through Europe, though that part didn’t really hit them until the last quarter of the story.
All in all a very intriguing and compulsively readable book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Anything that can pull me in to where I enter a different time in my mind is a great book.
Michelle Sutton, author, Healing Hearts