Read Hugh and Bess by Susan Higginbotham Online


As the eldest daughter of the new Earl of Salisbury, young Bess de Montacute is anticipating a suitable match. When King Edward III and her father choose Hugh le Despenser, the son and grandson of disgraced traitors, as her husband, she is aghast. Meanwhile, Hugh must give up the woman he loves in order to marry the reluctant Bess. Far apart in age and haunted by the past,As the eldest daughter of the new Earl of Salisbury, young Bess de Montacute is anticipating a suitable match. When King Edward III and her father choose Hugh le Despenser, the son and grandson of disgraced traitors, as her husband, she is aghast. Meanwhile, Hugh must give up the woman he loves in order to marry the reluctant Bess. Far apart in age and haunted by the past, Hugh and Bess must somehow make their marriage work. But just as they grow closer together, they are threatened by a merciless enemy that endangers all whom they hold dear. Set against the chivalry and pageantry of the fourteenth-century court of Edward III, Hugh and Bess is a story of love and loss, of letting go of the past-and of embracing the future....

Title : Hugh and Bess
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780615171876
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 196 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Hugh and Bess Reviews

  • Misfit
    2019-01-25 10:00

    Hugh and Bess are Hugh le Despenser, son of the infamous traitor "Hugh the Younger" and Bess, daughter of William de Montacute Earl of Salisbury. After Hugh's father is executed for treason (drawn and quartered) he is imprisoned for several years, and even when released he is still tainted with the "sins" of his father. Hugh must eventually marry, although the very young Bess is none too thrilled with her parent’s choice of an older groom and a son of a traitor to boot. The rest of the book details the relationship between the two, from a frosty beginning to one that culminates in a strong and loving marriage. I really enjoyed the relationship between the two, especially in the latter half of the book as Bess matures. I liked the banter between the two (ROFL when they went to court and she got a bit too tipsy), as well as getting glimpses of Joan of Kent and that old she-wolf Isabella. I also liked the way the author writes the dialogue, she doesn't throw in all those let's-try-and-make-this-sound-authentic words like "woe", "tis" and "certes", she just keeps it short and to the point. A refreshing change from some other books that I have recently sent flying.While I did find the first half a bit slow paced (it might have been me, we did have just a tad bit of a record setting heat wave here), I was turning the pages at the very end to find out what happened next. I just wish it could have been longer with the secondary characters fleshed out more, but that's just me, I like big fat books. I would definitely recommend you read The Traitor's Wife first so that you have background knowledge of the period and Hugh's father and the relationship with Edward II. I am very much looking forward to Higginbotham's next book set during The Wars of the Roses, tentatively called The Stolen Crown.

  • Lisa
    2019-02-05 17:11

    Not to be over dramatic, but this book came at the PERFECT time in my life. I literally JUST finished “Three Day Road” by Joseph Boyden, and while not being a BAD book, it was not an overly HAPPY one. And from the first sentence of Hugh and Bess I knew that it was going to be a delightful read. Which it totally WAS. I LOVED IT. I really do not know much about Edward II, but interestingly enough I DID know about the standoff at Calais so parts of the book were very cool for that reason. What I LOVED about the novel is that each of the characters had a very distinctive VOICE. And Bess’s voice is so endearing, I liked her immediately. She is only 13 when we meet her, and she is a widow (thaaaat’s right.. I said WIDOW) and her parents have figured she had been widowing around long enough and it was high time for her to be married off.. again. Bess is not impressed, to say the least, especially when she finds out that her dear friend Joan is marrying her brother Will who is around their age, and Bess has to marry this old guy who is a whole 32 years old for heaven’s sake! Eventhough this novel is set in the 14th century Bess's character is, in many ways, very typical of a any thirteen year old girl. For example how she is secretly annoyed at the fact the Joan has developed breasts long before she has. "So why didn't you tell me? Don't you want to marry Will?""No.""Why?""I have my reasons."This had become Joan's favourite saying since she had started her monthly courses and developed those breasts of hers. She is feisty, and outspoken, but also self conscious. All completely endearing qualities. Hugh, although relatively handsome, has a dark family history which horrifies Bess. But since she has no choice in the matter agrees to marry him. Flashbacks to Hugh's past help us to understand his character and how it is vastly different to that of his distasteful and cruel father and Grandfather. He is a respectable and lovely man who is always trying to "do the right thing". We also learn of Emma, Hugh's first real love whom he will never be permitted to marry. A very respectable woman in her own right, who knows the rules of the court well enough to know she will never be married to Hugh, the only man she has ever really loved. Throughout the story we are gently taken along as Hugh and Bess's feelings for one another grow, and we learn that their love is the stuff of fairy tales. That, which is to say, is not without its nightmares. "Hugh and Bess" is a love story, and it is very well written and lovely to read. Personally, I could not put it down and read it in two days. And I will be ordering Higginbotham's other book "The Traitor's Wife" and then "The Stolen Crown" when it comes out. If this book is any indication of the story telling ability of the author than I know I will LOVE her other books as well. Historical fiction can be tricky. You need to have enough HISTORY to frame the story in it's place in time, but not TOO much and not TOO DRY to make it like a text book. Higginbotham's historical fiction blends the "historical" and the "fiction" perfectly. In fact, in my opinion, the mark of a great historical fiction novel is that you want to go on after you finish it and devour anything having to do with the family or historical persons portrayed in the book. Higginbotham's novel made me want to do that very thing. Also, the mark of ANY good book is at the very very end, when you finally close its cover , you actually sigh audibly as in "that was SUCH a great book."

  • Sara
    2019-02-14 15:47

    After reading and loving The Traitor’s Wife, I eagerly anticipated Higginbotham’s sequel of sorts, Hugh and Bess. When it finally did arrive, I became so wrapped up in the soapy romantic drama that I dropped everything and finished it in a day. The story centers on a young Elizabeth de Montacute or Bess, the daughter of favored Earl and the much older, Hugh le Despenser, a wealthy (yet disgraced) Lord. Hugh’s grandfather and father were executed as traitors, and Hugh’s father was accused of adultery and sodomy with the former King. Hugh himself was imprisoned missing a near execution himself, but is now working hard to restore his family’s honor. Bess is understandably horrified at marriage into a family with such a reputation, and Hugh is honored by the match in theory, but he is in love with another woman. Can they find happiness in a marriage that neither sought and both are entering with reluctance?At the heart of Hugh and Bess is a love story. Higginbotham manages to give Hugh and Bess an electric chemistry that compels throughout the historical drama. What makes the plot successful is Higginbotham’s tendency to ground the story in known facts then realistically elaborate the humanistic elements. For example, Bess begins the story at 13, and she reads and feels—13. This is a refreshing change from the tiny calculating power hungry seven-year-old cliché that dominates the historical fiction genre. Those who have read The Traitor’s Wife will be pleased as we get a few more glimpses of favorite characters. And this story takes care to fill in gaps in time, and show that story from different perspectives. You’ll want to read the Traitor’s Wife if you haven’t not because it is necessary for Hugh and Bess, but because it’s a great novel. That said; the last few chapters seem to drag. We’ve moved on from a lot of the action, and not to spoil and plot lines, but the climatic challenges that face the couple, and the ensuing chapters read like and after thought. It was almost as if Higginbotham had fallen in love with her characters and was unwilling to let go. Also, having read The Traitor’s Wife, and other historical works of the time, I still found it hard to place some of the minor characters. It doesn’t help that the English nobility of the time only used a couple of family names repeatedly, ie, Elizabeth, Hugh, Edward, Isabella, Joan, William, etc… A little more guidance and more thorough introductions would have been helpful.However by focusing on the romance, Higginbotham delivers a relatable historical fiction piece that transcends generations. If you (like me) just can’t get enough of these English court novels, I’m certain you’ll love Hugh and Bess.

  • Orsolya
    2019-02-08 17:12

    Many women have been forced to marry men with dubious pasts. Bess de Montacute had to marry one with a disgraced father and grandfather: Hugh le Despenser. Susan Higginbotham brings the relationship to life in “Hugh and Bess”.Similar to “The Traitor’s Wife” which precedes “Hugh and Bess”; the novel begins with a slightly slow and uneventful pace. Not only does it seem as though Higginbotham is unsure of her initial writing (this was my same complaint in “The Traitor’s Wife”) but the text is overridden with dialogue which merely recaps history. Not to mention, much of the speaking dialogue sounds too modern. So much so, that there are jarring moments which can snap the reader away from the historical world (such as the overuse of stating that men are ‘single’ versus ‘unmarried’). Also initially unstable is the alternating narration of Hugh, Hugh’s memories, and Bess. This back and forth, plus chronology jumps, can become confusing.As “Hugh and Bess” proceeds, Higginbotham’s writing becomes much more confident concerning the actual written language and the plot, itself (this also happened in “The Traitor’s Wife”). Once this occurs, the reader is more engaged and the story is more ‘lived’ versus ‘told’. Furthermore, Higginbotham strongly focuses on history instead of dramatic, flowery descriptions making “Hugh and Bess’ a delight to those readers who prefer their historical fiction novels to be more history than fiction and therefore more ‘real’.Commonly in historical fiction novels, authors tend to overpopulate the text with foreshadowing and rush the storyline in order to create excitement. Higginbotham avoids foreshadowing, encouraging the reader to want to know what happens next. This adds multiple levels and folds to “Hugh and Bess”.The characterizations are strong with Higginbotham creating stories around either lesser-known figures or those who aren’t generally given their own voices. Although the entire Despenser family has a poor reputation, Higginbotham cultivates a rounded view of Hugh, crushing stereotypes and even making him likable instead of just a man from a villainous family. In fact, Hugh is even witty and romantic! “Hugh and Bess” has the flaw of feeling pointless at times, as though nothing will happen. This is counteracted, however, by the delicious storytelling, characters, and mere life in the plot. Higginbotham sculpts vivid nuances which thrill with escapism.Although some reviews stated an issue with character development; I had no problems with this finding the arcs to be suitable. Bess, in particular, steadily matured and grew making her realistic. There were some small annoyances though such as Queen Isabella being called a “She-Wolf” when she wasn’t dubbed this until after her death, characters “shrugging” on almost EVERY page, and long chapters which are more like sections.A small note, but Higginbotham’s addition of sarcasm and humor really supplements the story. It’s a bit of the author coming through in her work and it is achieved perfectly!The conclusion of “Hugh and Bess” felt somewhat rushed and unrelated to the story but nonetheless is passionate and memorable. An “Author’s Note” answers some reader questions regarding historical accuracy although the absence of a genealogical table is noted and could have been helpful. “Hugh and Bess” is a lighter read (it only took me two days) but not because it is fluffy or airy on the history but because the story is very engrossing and captivating. I would say I enjoyed this more than “The Traitor’s Wife”. “Hugh and Bess” is recommended for historical fiction fans, especially during the reign of Edward III.

  • Iset
    2019-02-03 17:11

    Hugh and Bess, sequel to The Traitor's Wife, felt to me more like an extra treat for readers who loved the Despensers in the latter novel and want to know what happened to them next, rather than a standalone novel in its own right, let me just say that straight off the bat. It's a good book with a sweet story at its heart, but those expecting the same type of novel as The Traitor's Wife won't get it. Hugh and Bess is not the sweeping epic that The Traitor's Wife is and is instead a cosy character tale of personal relationships. Whether or not you like that flavour of story is really up to your individual tastes as a reader.I'm not sure whether the historical context contributes anything to this - after the rollercoaster of a ride through the history of Edward II's reign in The Traitor's Wife things are a little bit quieter for the Despenser family in the aftermath - or whether this focus on personal relationships in the novel is more the active choice of Higginbotham as an author. And because of the way the novel ends, there is a different feel to Hugh and Bess. The characters feel swept up in the tide of history, taking them where it will, rather than the history in The Traitor's Wife which felt shaped and created by conflicting and competing human agency.Still, it's impossible to deny that I liked this book. There are some pretty big gaps in the historical record that Higginbotham has to tackle here, and it feels like she does to sensitively and plausibly. Hugh and Bess is marked by the same excellent story-weaving, character-building, and nuanced attention to the details and the setting as ever before, and the human voices that emerge are sympathetic, identifiable, and entertaining.8 out of 10

  • Steven Peterson
    2019-01-23 14:02

    I enjoy historical fiction, with the emphasis more on the history than the fiction. In this tale written by Susan Higginbotham, the emphasis is more on the story of an historical couple than the history itself. But it works nicely!One of the key protagonists in this novel is Hugh le Despenser. Seldom could anyone have been so unlucky to have acquired a name! His father and grandfather had also had that name, and they died being tortured and disgraced because of their hold over the rather weak Edward II (If you watched the movie "Braveheart," he was the rather wimpy son of Edward Longshanks--played by Patrick McGoohan). The youngest Hugh ended up being held captive for some years before finally being released. He had some lands and he joined the king's army for war against France. His happiness was provided by a female friend (a fictional creation that works pretty well), Emma. They fell in love--but both understood that a better marriage would be arranged for Hugh.This is also the story of Bess de Montacute. She was the one who was selected to become Hugh's wife. Much of the story revolves around their developing relationship, the challenges that they face, the sometimes anger with one another, and the eventual flowering of a deep relationship. Poignant, too, is the role that Emma plays in their lives.Thus, if you want a deep piece of historical fiction with the emphasis on history, this might not work. If you are interested in a character study of two people placed within an historical context, then this might well enchant. The author does a nice job of developing believable characters; her writing style is felicitous.

  • Amy Bruno
    2019-01-27 10:10

    Elizabeth de Montecute (Bess) is not a happy camper when she learns she is to be married to the son of the notorious Hugh le Despenser, lover to King Edward II. The fact that the son is nothing like the father does nothing to assuage her displeasure. Now, Hugh is no more thrilled about the arrangement than Bess, but he’s a realist and when the king offers you an heiress and daughter of his closest advisors, you take it!After the grisly execution of his father, the third Hugh le Despenser was imprisoned for a few years and then granted a release from King Edward III, whom he serves loyally. Hugh made a name for himself as a great fighter and led troops in some of England’s greatest victories, never once deviating from his lifelong mission of bringing back honor to the family name. His efforts are rewarded with the return of family land and the young and beautiful Bess for wife.Hugh & Bess is a story of two people coming to terms with their fate and the journey along the way. One thing that really sets Susan Higginbotham apart as an author for me is her ability to bring her sense of humor to each character. And characters that can poke fun at themselves are my kinda people! If you’ve ever read her blog, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Another thing Susan is also brilliant at is dialogue, which seems to me the hardest part of writing a novel. Hugh & Bess is a great historical fiction novel for pro or amateur and at 320 pages it’s an easy one-sit read!

  • Alaine
    2019-01-19 16:52

    This books does have a link to Susan Higginbotham's previous release The Traitor's Wife but it is not necessary to read it first. I've got both books but decided to read Hugh and Bess first, primarily because it is smaller and I don't have a lot of time on my hands at the moment. It was very easy to slip into the 1300's and the difficulties of life during that time.Hugh Le Despenser's father and grandfather where executed when Hugh was a young man. He spent months in prison but eventually was released and had to deal with life coming from a disgraced family. Hugh works hard to build up the trust of the King and ultimately becomes one of his most trusted knights. Hugh falls in love with a low born family friend and because of this is in no hurry to find a wife.Bess de Montacute was 14 years old when her father told her that she was to be married to the son and grandson of disgraced traitors who was twice her age. Honestly, I found Bess to behave like a spoilt brat early in the book and she did annoy me at times. But as Bess warmed to Hugh I warmed to her as a character. By the end of the book she was a wonderful caring person who was changed by her marriage and the relationship she had with her husband and her best friend Emma and the way in which her life was touched by the black plague. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to readers of historical fiction. This is a book that should definitely be on your TBR list!

  • Tara Chevrestt
    2019-02-11 10:59

    Hugh is the son and grandson both of traitors who have been executed. Bess is much dismayed at being told that she is to marry him and at the mere age of thirteen. Thankfully, he must wait one year to bed her. But when that year is up...This is not an exciting, pulse pouding tale. There is no great mystery. Nor is there scandal to make one gasp in shock or dismay. Rather, it is a love story. It is about marriage and how if nurtured properly and with an open mind, a seed can become a flower. It is up to Hugh and Bess to make a flower grow out of the seed of their arranged marriage. Or will their antics cause a weed to grow instead? And there are antics aplenty what with Bess being a sassy tho naive young girl and Hugh a seasoned soldier who is bound to take "no" for an answer for only so long. Tensions build and arguments ensue.In the end, it may not be up to Hugh and Bess. Fate may play a big role in determining the outcome of their marriage with Hugh fighting the king's wars against Scotland, participating in a siege in Calais, and then there is the pestilence..This is a sequel to The Traitor's Wife, but thanks to a very informative prologue, one does not necessarily need to read The Traitor's Wife to understand and enjoy this one. I personally liked this one more. I enjoyed both Hugh's and Bess's characters and I also liked the issues brought up within the story: A virgin's fear of sex, arranged marriage, adultery, and forgiveness. I actually sat and read this in one evening and it is a good 271 pages of pure story. I was that entertained. 5 stars.

  • Regina Lindsey
    2019-01-25 16:05

    Hugh and Bess by Susan HiggenbothamHugh and Bess by Susan Higgenbotham3-1/2 starsIn what could be seen as a sequel to The Traitor's Wife, Higgenbotham follows the next generation of Hugh le Despenser's family. His son, by the same name, is desperately trying to right his family's name by showing loyalty to the king and averting the court's intrigue. Receiving blessing from the king to marry young Elizabeth de Montecute (Bess), who reluctantly acquiesces to her parents' demands, he tries to forge a new life by gaining respect from his contemporaries and maybe even the love of his new wife. I would label this more fiction set in an historical setting than historical fiction work, which was fine because it was a bit refreshing and a sweet love story. Most historical fiction work set in this period focuses on the posturing of various families, often using daughters to inch closer and closer and to the throne until, ultimately, it causes the demise of one. However, Hugh as learned lessons from his forefathers and, rather, works to be the best man he can. He is an endearing character. The reader is privy to a young girl coming of age and growing into her expected role. To her surprise, she also gets to experience love from someone she least expected. It is not a word that will blow you away. But, Higginbotham is adept at character development and it was an enjoyable, yet quick, read.

  • Carolyn
    2019-01-22 14:48

    It was ok I guess. The ages of the characters didn't bother me, though I have read in the reviews that it did some. It wasn't really all that much about Hugh and Bess, more about what was going on at the time. The cover says "A novel following in the footsteps of Jean Plaidy..." and this is very true. Jean Plaidy's books were big on history, but she was not a good storyteller. (Among the most boring historical fiction I have ever read btw) SH is not nearly so bad, but the book did not pull me in as I would have liked. (view spoiler)[ Fictional or not, there is no way Emma would have been so easily forgiven, especially by a 14/15 year old girl. Teenagers hold grudges for goodness sake. Even if the infidelity could be forgiven, and I know it can, you don't invite that person right back into the same relationship and position they were in before. OK. Rant over (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]

  • Amanda
    2019-01-25 14:55

    In the novel Hugh and Bess, historical author Susan Higginbotham returns to fourteenth century England. In what is more of a continuation or sequel to The Traitor's Wife than a stand-alone novel, Higginbotham explores the life of Eleanor le Despenser's oldest son Hugh, heir to the Despenser family. As the son of a convicted traitor, Hugh must rebuild his family's reputation and take care of his younger siblings while navigating court games and ever-changing intrigues.In particular, Higginbotham focuses her novel Hugh and Bess (okay, maybe it's more of a novella) on a love story between Hugh le Despenser and young Elizabeth "Bess," a well-to-do earl's daughter. After being widowed at the age of eleven, young Bess has been living with her family, waiting for her next husband. When the king suggests the match between Bess and Hugh le Despenser, her parents could hardly resist -even though the Despenser family is regarded as traitors and have a horrid past with the crown. Reluctantly, Bess marries Hugh, and finds that Hugh still has feelings for another woman. As Bess matures, she finds that marrying Hugh wasn't as detestable as she thought...While the backbone of this story is a semi-steamy romance, Higginbotham also made sure there was plenty of room for history and oh-so-exciting court intrigue, as well as character development. Though young Bess starts out as a frivolous young girl, she grows in a mature and fascinating woman by the story's end. I became so interested in Bess, in fact, that I didn't want the story to end. She was still very young at the end and, as mentioned in the after word, Bess went on to do other things in her life, which could have been absolutely fascinating to explore. I really would have liked to see the story expanded into a heftier novel so it could stand apart from The Traitor's Wife more and give Bess more attention -though, of course, this would change the "love story" approach suggested by the novel's title, but it could be done and probably make the book even better.It was also interesting to see a few flashbacks to events that took place during those documented in The Traitor's Wife to Hugh, though I thought it was just a tiny bit conceited -almost fit too perfectly together.But I can't complain -Hugh and Bess is another lovely historical novel from Higginbotham!

  • Nattie
    2019-02-03 08:48

    This was a good quick read. Only a drag or two here and there. The same cannot be said about Susan's The traitor's wife, I read that one a couple days before this and I still have an ache in my head.As good as this book is, it got on my nerves something awful. Bess is still 12 when set to marry Hugh, and 13 when they wed. Her father asks Hugh not to "take" his little Bess until she is 14. No matter how many times I come across such doings in historical fiction, my lip still curls. Children, usually girls, being married off to fully grown men will never set well I suppose. There are a couple boys about 11 or 13 in this book who wed, but they at least wed girls their own age and it seems that boys are quite expected to wait until they are "ready" to roll in the marriage bed, while girls are expected to start up as soon as their "monthly courses" start; even if they are 12. Sigh.Just about everybody is obssesed with young girls' breasts and rumps. The author makes sure to tell you about the nice round rump and set on Joan of Kent when she is practically a tween. There is too much talk of maidenheads and putting babies in bellies for my taste. The sexism is another downer, as with most historical fiction I have read, but this book is one that nearly takes the cake and the cupcakes too. Even the females are mostly sexist against their own gender. In one part, Bess sends Hugh away when their one year of waiting is up. She is not ready to be "taken" and is scared. Keep in mind that Bess is just past 13, not that you could forget because the author harps on it. Later, Bess says that she had no right to turn Hugh away, and that he has every right to "take" her whenever he wants, as does every husband. Legally, this was true, and even in some states in America I think that law is still on the books. It really bothered me deeply that Bess was written as saying that. Still an entertaining story, but I think I might need a break from royal fiction after this.

  • ladywallingford
    2019-01-28 16:14

    I had meant to read this one right after I read The Traitor's Wife by the same author but alas, here I am over a year later and just now finishing it.Hugh and Bess is a sequel to The Traitor's Wife (with a few flashbacks from the point of view of Hugh le Despenser the son) and tells the story of the marriage between Hugh and Elizabeth de Montacute.What I didn't like: I didn't always know the emotion of the scene. The biggest example coming to mind is the morning after Bess gets drunk and flirts with the king (Edward III of England). She is summoned to the queen mother's chamber and Hugh escorts her, meanwhile "teasing" her about her conduct from the night before...except apparently he wasn't teasing as we learn later. The tone of the writing seemed as if he was teasing and not angry with her. What I liked: Nothing in particular is standing out as I write this but I did really enjoy the story. There were points where I just had to keep reading but the whole book wasn't like that. Quite honestly, I found it particularly enjoyable as a book to read while exercising or I can even see it as a "light" summer read since I didn't find it as meaty as other books that I have read from this author. Therefore, if you want something that you can sink your teeth into for a while, wait for this one. However, if you want something light, this is a good read. I would highly recommend reading The Traitor's Wife beforehand but it's not necessary.

  • Gaile
    2019-01-27 11:16

    An easy and dreamy read, written against the background of the reign of Edward III.Young Elizabeth De Montacute is first married while still a child. The groom being old, the marriage was never consummated and on his death Bess returned to her home only to find herself betrothed to another, Hugh Le Despenser, whom father and grandfather had beenexecuted for treason. Bess is defiant, Hugh reluctant being in love with another. Themarriage contract is hammered out with all the vigilance of a mortgage or bank loan today.Bess is only twelve. Today she would be considered an underage minor.Although Bess and Hugh never had children, through the intervening years we see howthey fall in love and come to be happy together. Then the Black Death arrives in England.After Hugh's death. Bess is allowed little time to grieve, The King gives her to understandshe must choose a groom or he will. The novel ends with her agreeing to marry again.There is an afterword stating she had four children from her third husband but did not livelong enough to see them grow up.Life was harsh then. Death never far away. Noble women were often left to manage lands and householdswhile their husbands and sons old enough were off to serve the King. Many of these women were below the age of eighteen.I enjoyed this book for it's historical background but wish it had been longer.

  • Cynthia Haggard
    2019-01-22 13:03

    HUGH and BESS by Susan Higginbotham continues the story of the le Despencer family begun in her first novel TRAITOR’S WIFE, by talking about the heir of Hugh le Despencer the Younger (also called Hugh le Despencer), and his young wife Bess de Montacute. As the back-cover copy says, who would want to marry this Hugh le Despencer? For he is the son and grandson of traitors. Yet fourteen-year-old Bess de Montacute is told she must marry this fellow. She is not pleased.What follows is a love story in which Bess’s resistance is finally broken down by her husband’s tender and loving care. Despite the fact that there is too much narrative summary for my taste, and too many tells, Susan manages to make this story funny, as we see this rather spoiled teenager gradually melting under Hugh’s gentle charm. After that, we learn the secret that Joan of Kent - Bess’s best friend - has been keeping to herself, which is a painful one for the Montacute family. (Joan of Kent is best-known now as the mother of Richard II. It was lovely to see her portrayed in this novel as a fresh young teenager). The novel ends with the advent of the Black Death and the devastation it causes. Although it is not a long novel, it is a charming one, and Susan has created a compelling character in the little-known Bess Montacute. Four stars.

  • Jennbarnes
    2019-01-28 11:57

    Hugh and Bess is the story of Hugh le Despenser and his marriage to Bess de Montacute during the reign of Edward II in England. I would say it falls into the Historical romance category but it is by no means a bodice ripper, in fact I thought it was a very sweet love story. Most of the first half of the book is taken up by the back story of Hugh's family and his life before he met Bess. I liked that the author explored the human side of his father and did not stereotype him based on what history has recorded of his misdeeds. Hugh's character is just an eminently good guy who was put in a bad position and had bad things happen to him when he was young. After he meets and marries Bess there is some tension in the first year, but then they settle down happily and continue on for many years making up for the misfortune of his youth. Not a whole lot happens in this book, everyone pretty much loves each other and there are a few events that effect the lives of the main characters, but nothing really major until the end. It was a good light read, I think it took me a total of nine hours over three days to read it.

  • Ana T.
    2019-01-26 16:09

    I've heard much about Susan Higginbotham's books but I had never tried any when this Hugh and Bess attracted my attention. I know that it is not her first book and that the first - The Traitor's Wife - is a sort of prequel to this story but since I already had this one I couldn't resist picking it up.I did find it a nice, fast read. It is mostly a romance but with a strong historical background that gives you an idea of what was happening in England at the time. Besides the main families here - Montacute and Le Despenser - we see bit of the king, of Joan the Fair Maid of Kent and even of Isabella, the She-Wolf of France. Those parts were interesting and I was sorry not to have more historical detail.Still, this is a sweet story of two people falling in love after they marry, much against the bride's wishes. How they get to know each other and start trusting each other before they manage to make their marriage work.After reading this one I got curious about The Traitor's Wife and I have now added it to my WL.Grade: 4/5

  • Rio (Lynne)
    2019-02-16 13:04

    This is the follow up to The Traitor's Wife: A Novel of the Reign of Edward II. You can read it alone, but I don't think you will enjoy it as well if you don't read them in order. The first 75 pages recaps what happened from Hugh's experience during The Traitor's Wife, which I enjoyed. In this book Hugh is trying to bring honor back to the le Despenser name. As for "the love story" I never warmed to Bess. She acted more like a 14 year old in current times, than a 14 year old in medieval times. I also didn't like her relationship with Emma. I won't go into details for spoiler alert reasons. Higginbotham takes us through the pestilence, briefly covers the Battle of Crécy and the English taking over Calais. Overall, I love Higginbotham's writing style. She makes you feel like you are right there in her stories. Great details!

  • Blodeuedd Finland
    2019-01-26 15:52

    I read the book about Hugh's dad, and I must say this one was much better. This one I could actually enjoy. Though I do not like that she made it..cute? They liked each other too much. Is that fact or fiction?Ok, Bess is told she must marry Hugh. She is 13, a widow, he is 30. The age thing did not bother me. Marry them away young before they do something stupid. It was the 14th century after all. They waited until she was mature enough for that other business.Hugh is the son of a traitor. Bess the daughter of a newly made Earl with the king's ear. It was a political match. In this book they grow to like each other, and I guess that was nice.Oh that time. I had forgotten that 3 of his sisters (kids!) were forced to become nuns when their father was executed. Women were cattle.All in all, I enjoyed this book. It felt very light historical fiction (the previous one was actually too heavy and felt like a textbook). An interesting couple.

  • Deborah Pickstone
    2019-01-24 17:00

    I am somewhat bewildered by this novel - it appears to be about nothing. There are two characters but nothing happens to them - even the chap, we can only assume to have died - possibly - of the plague. Yes, he was the son of the dreadful Hugh le Despenser - another Hugh - quite a lot of them about! They were married for a short time, I presume she dreamt up the love story and she certainly dreamt up the lover (for him). The writer did write some nice dialoge but it was so bound up with historical howlers that my credibility was stretched beyond bearing.I said this writer's novels were better than her (recently read) biography. Sorry, but am changing that. I won't read her again.

  • Karen
    2019-01-19 09:00

    Touted as the next Jean Plaidy, this author doesn't even come close! Pedantic, with dumb downed prose, she makes history look like a day in the 21st century. Historical details completely lacking, Susan Higginbotham uses this to create a story based in her imagination, which is absolutely uninspired. Blah doesn't begin to describe the actual storyline, it goes more like this - blah, blah, blah. Using historical figures in a way that is highly unhistorical, I didn't find any pleasure in reading at all.

  • Marcela
    2019-02-03 13:53

    I had quite high expectations for this book but it all came off as rather... wishy-washy.

  • Dixie
    2019-01-22 14:09

    Turned out to be a romantic novel loosely based on some events in English history. My expectations were for a historical novel.

  • Jenny
    2019-02-06 08:57

    The best thing I can say about this book is that it helped me sort out the Edward II-III part of English history. But flashcards would have done the job, too-- and been more challenging. Boo.

  • Lady Jane Grey
    2019-01-20 09:59

    Pleasantly surprised! I heard the other books by this author aren't as well written as this one, but I am excited to read them and see for myself :)

  • Shradha
    2019-01-23 08:49

    A girl, slightly spoiled and immature, bemoaning her arranged marriage with a much older man with a less than reputable family history. A man, haunted by his past, constantly trying to find opportunities to ingratiate himself with the royal family, and right the wrongs of his father, even if it comes at the cost of casting away the woman he loves in favor of marrying a young lady from a lofty family. All seem like a setup for a perfect historical novel that examines the nature of relationships in a world where children as young as six are eligible to be married or engaged to thirty-year-olds. At least, this was the kind of "love story" that I was expecting to find in this book.Instead, the plot turns out to be one of those contrived pieces of romantic trash, where the main characters are largely one-dimensional, and are victims of that horrible cliche, "meant to be from the very first moment they met." Even with the so-called animosity between the hero and heroine, which often plays out as a childish distaste that perhaps is one of Bess's most realistically portrayed traits, and the fact that Hugh is supposedly in the beginning of the novel, in love with a woman with whom he has been in a relationship for over ten years, we are supposed to believe that he "is more in love than he ever has been" with a thirteen-year-old he has only spoken with twice. It is this kind of single-minded characterization, only bent on forwarding the romantic plot, that utterly spoiled this book for me, and nearly had me leave it unfinished.Perhaps the one thing that made this book, as terrible and not entirely worth reading as I had assumed it to be, only mildly tolerable to the end, was the character of Queen Isabella, whose appearance was all too brief in this book. In her, I saw the traits that I had longed to see in the rest of the ensemble, the unabashed admittance of her past actions of overthrowing her husband and killing the nobles associated with him, as well as slight regret as to how these deeds contradicted the ideal of what a good woman or wife should be at that time. The way the author conveyed these nuances in only a few pages was quite admirable, and I only wish that she had been able to provide the same kind of care to the rest of her characters.

  • Katie Bee
    2019-02-07 12:03

    This one didn't work for me. I was expecting a historical fiction novel that used Hugh & Bess's relationship to explore the era more broadly, or at least to have some historical plot. But apart from Hugh's lingering angst about being the son of an executed traitor, it turned out to be quite light on the history. Instead, it was a melodramatic, cliched romance novel in which the author invented whole subplots to amp up the drama and left me with a slightly queasy feeling.In brief, this is the novel:A 13-year-old girl, Bess, is told she has to marry a 33-year-old man, Hugh, even though she doesn't want to. He's the son of an infamous traitor and has a longtime mistress who he loves dearly but can't marry because she's only gentry. (The mistress is one of the invented subplots and didn't exist.) The only concession to Bess's unwillingness is that her parents make Hugh promise not to bed her for a year (discussing this in front of her! Everyone discusses this sort of thing extremely openly and frankly). Over the year, Hugh falls in love with her, even though she continues to only barely tolerate him, and watches her body develop with anticipation. (Ugh. I wish I'd dropped the book at this point - I wanted to - but I thought "surely this is just the introduction, and most of the book will be about their adult relationship in the following decades".) Nope. After some soap opera drama involving Emma, Hugh's invented mistress, Bess falls deeply in love with Hugh and the rest of the book is the two of them being in love until Hugh abruptly dies of the plague.Would not recommend. The only high points for me were the Dowager Queen, Isabella, and Queen Philippa, but they appear very briefly.ETA: Since reading this novel, I've tried other Higginbotham novels and liked them MUCH more.

  • Mela
    2019-02-12 15:11

    What a charming historical fiction. I don't recall such type of genre. I would name it "a gentle historical fiction". First of all, one can see Susan Higginbotham knew what she wrote. She had to make a wide and deep research. It isn't simply a story which took place in the past, it is one of the book I call "historical-fiction-to-learn-history".Secondly, there is an enchanting love story. And the fact it was a true story makes it even more fascinating.Last but not least, the narration, the way Higginbotham chose to tell the story of Hugh and Bess has much in common with young adult books. You know, most of real and good historical fictions tend to be not only very serious but also dramatic, sad, violent, brutal. There is nothing wrong in that, many stories were sad and violent. Nonetheless, a writer may always choose how to describe them. For example Anya Seton's and Gwen Bristow's books often squeeze my heart or even make me cry. Susan Higginbotham wrote lighter, more gentle. But it doesn't mean it is weak, far from that. There were many interesting characters besides Hugh and Bess, e.g. Emma, Joan, Alice. There was an action, war, everyday life and so on. All you expect in a historical fiction.So, I am definitely going to read another novel by Susan Higginbotham.

  • Jennifer
    2019-01-20 11:47

    Fair warning: my copy does not have the subtitle of "A Love Story" that goodreads does, but it aptly describes the novel. Hugh and Bess is a lot of fluff, and very little substance. Luckily I already knew what to expect, and as a result I enjoyed the book for what it was. If you go in expecting a painstakingly accurate account of events along the lines of Sharon Kay Penman, then you're going to be disappointed. The focus is on the relationship of Hugh Le Despenser (son of the reviled Hugh Le Despenser the younger) and his wife Bess de Montacute. I enjoyed seeing their relationship evolve from its rocky beginning to one of strong and mutual trust an affection. It was a quick, fairly easy read, and I'm sorry there was not more, though given the events I can understand why.