Captain Tuttle’s #CBR 4 Review #23 – The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham
The “stolen crown” belongs to Elizabeth Woodville, the woman Edward IV married in secret. Elizabeth’s younger sister Kate married Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. Henry’s kind of an idiot, seemingly influenced by the last person he spoke to – unfortunately for him, he talks to Richard (Gloucester) way too much. The young couple is caught in the whole Yorkist/Lancastrian mess.
The story is told from the viewpoints of both Kate and Harry from their marriage as children (Kate is 7 and Harry is 9 when they are “married”). They grow up together, and at some point fall in love and have children (according to what I’ve read, this author has taken great license with this). Personally, I had never heard of Kate and Harry Stafford, other than maybe peripherally, and the author has done a good job in interesting me in these people’s lives. We see them at King Edward IV’s court amid all the scheming and treachery. After King Edward’s death, Harry sides with Richard (they’ve had some good drunken times together and are “blood brothers”), which tears his family apart and ultimately leads to his death (spoilers?).
Kate is clever and strong, and is written as far more modern-thinking that she likely was. She is forced to lie, run, hide, and keep her children safe because of her husband’s horrible decisions. Harry does get a redemption arc, although again this may be artistic license rather than historical fact.
The interesting part is, the author gave her reasons for her license, and certainly her research can not be faulted. If you enjoy historical fiction, especially from this time period, and are looking for something beyond the usual cast of characters, The Stolen Crown is a good option.