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About the Book:
1445. King Henry VI is married by proxy to Margaret of Anjou. French, beautiful and unpopular, her marriage causes a national uproar.
At the same time, the infant Margaret Beaufort is made a great heiress and suddenly becomes the most important commodity in the nation. Her childhood is lived in remote, echoing castles, while everyone at King Henry’s court competes to be her guardian and engineer an advantageous alliance with her uncle, the Duke of Somerset.
With the collapse of Henry VI’s hold on France, discord among the English nobles breaks out into civil war. Henry becomes the mad king, and Margaret of Anjou declares herself Queen Regent, left alone to fight for her son’s position as rightful heir. Meanwhile, Margaret Beaufort, although still little more than a child at thirteen, has been married twice and given birth to her only son—the future King of England.
Succession is an imaginative and engrossing novel about the events that inspired George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s the story of the fall of the House of Lancaster and of the two remarkable women who gave birth to the Tudor dynasty. The dramatic plot is supplemented with short chronicles that were written at the time, further rooting readers in the history.
About the Author:
LIVI MICHAEL is the winner of the Society of Authors Award and a finalist for the Mind Award. She teaches literature at the Manchester Metropolitan University and has been a senior lecturer in creative writing at Sheffield Hallam University. She lives in Yorkshire, United Kingdom.
You can read an excerpt of Succession
The battle between York and Lancaster is well trodden material for readers of historical fiction. Ms. Michael’s book purports to be about the two Margarets in the middle of the fray; Margaret of Anjou – Henry VI’s wife and Margaret Beaufort – mother to the eventual Henry VII. I would put the book at 3/4 Margaret of Anjou for in reality when writing about events taking place up just the crowning of Edward IV, Henry VII is hardly in play. Her manner of telling her story is somewhat unique from other books I have read in the period – she writes (for the most part) in very short chapters that use dialog and bits of additional information to expound on the chronicles of the day. The only exception really is the one long section detailing Margaret Beaufort’s move and marriage to Edmond Tudor.
This manner of storytelling leads to a somewhat choppy experience for the reader. It took a bit to figure out exactly what the author was doing. I also think the fact that I was rather familiar with the time period helped me in reading the book. It’s not that the author wrote it poorly it’s just a very confusing time period and this book is just not very in depth. It just skims the surface of what is a multi decade time period. It will certainly give a reader new to the War of the Roses a taste of the conflict and certainly either a desire to delve further into it or it will confuse them. It will depend on just how interested that person is in the history of England.
I was also a little disappointed in the book given the title, that it did not focus more on the women. I realize that history leaves far less in the written record about women – even those that were remarkable for their time – but given that the book was purported to be about these two most remarkable women it did not offer me as a reader that much about them but more about the men in their lives. I suppose that is the way it will always be.
Overall this was an interesting take on the reign of Henry VI but I really didn’t learn anything new. I did enjoy reading all of the quotes from the chroniclers of the time. The writing style is easy to read and the section on Margaret Beaufort was the more interesting part of the book for me.