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The Handfasted Wife (The Daughters of Hastings Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Carol McGrath
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Shortlisted for the 2014 RONA Romantic Novel of the Year Awards - Historical Romantic Novel Category

‘Moving, and vastly informative, a real page turner of a historical novel.’ - Fay Weldon

The Handfasted Wife is the story of the Norman Conquest from the perspective of Edith (Elditha) Swanneck, Harold’s common-law wife. She is set aside for a political marriage when Harold becomes king in 1066. Determined to protect her children’s destinies and control her economic future, she is taken to William’s camp when her estate is sacked on the eve of the Battle of Hastings. She later identifies Harold’s body on the battlefield and her youngest son becomes a Norman hostage.

This is an adventure story of love, loss, survival and reconciliation. Based on the historical story of Edith Swan-Neck, The Handfasted Wife tells the story of 1066 from the perspective of the royal women.

Books In This Series (3 Books)
Complete Series

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    Product Description


    "This is an era and a family that I can't get enough of reading and the author surely did them justice... Carol McGrath has done impeccable research and is so very knowledgeable on these troubled times." -- Kathleen Ingram - Reading the Ages "Carol McGrath has done a fabulous job of bring this important time in English history to life. Through her vivid and excellent writing she transports the reader back to the tumultuous clash of two very different societies and cultures, Saxon and Norman." - 5* --Christopher Melby

    About the Author

    Carol McGrath taught History and English for many years in secondary schools and the private sector. She left teaching to work on a MA in Creative Writing at Queens University Belfast and went on to enrol for an MPhil at Royal Holloway, London. There she developed expertise in the middle ages. The idea to tell the story about the death of King Harold told from the viewpoint of his common law wife, Edith Swanneck, first came to her on a visit to Bayeux with the Launton/Gavray Twinning Society, which she chaired. She is married with two children and runs a business with her husband. She also reviews books for the Historical Novels Review.

    Product details

    • Format: Kindle Edition
    • File Size: 541 KB
    • Print Length: 378 pages
    • Publisher: Accent Press (14 Dec. 2013)
    • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B00CL7QBVM
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Enabled
    • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
    • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
    • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,207 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    More About the Author

    Based in England, Carol McGrath writes Historical Fiction. She studied History at Queens University Belfast, has an MA in Creative Writing from the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University Belfast and an English MPhil from Royal Holloway, University of London. The Handfasted Wife is her debut novel, first in a trilogy titled The Daughters of Hastings. The second and third novels The Swan-Daughter and The Betrothed Sister have followed and are now available on amazon and in bookshops. Carol is an historian specialised in The Medieval Era. Her first love, however, is writing. She is an avid reader and reviewer.

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    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars The Handfasted Wife 3 Dec. 2013
    Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
    Intended to be the first of a trilogy this is the story of Edith who was married to Harold Godwineson the last Saxon King of England who was killed at the Battle of Hastings. They were married according to a Danish, non Christian, rite and though the relationship was a happy one and they had several children after Harold became King in the early part of 1066 he married another lady in a Christian ceremony. This is a superb historical novel telling the story of Edith and her family in the months before the Battle of Hastings and the years afterwards. It really brings the period to life. Very highly recommended.
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    6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars bringing history to life 11 May 2014
    This novel interweaves fact and fiction to bring to life not only a pivotal time in British history but also a perspective that I wish we had more of in history: that of the women. I was so fascinated by the former that I had to keep setting the book down to research more about those times, and was so moved by the latter that I had to look up even more. McGrath has successfully recreated the setting, the lives and the difficulties that beset the Godwin women after King Harold Godwinsson was killed at the battle of Hastings.

    The story builds slowly, showing the background for why he set aside his `handfasted' wife for a political marriage, and the kind of prejudices that his first wife, Elditha (the main character) encountered. But it quickly builds as war approaches. We are spared the horrific battle, but from there on in, the action builds as we are plunged into the grief of loss as well as the fight for survival and for her children that Elditha and others like her endured.

    I was especially taken by how Danish, Irish, English and Norman themes are interwoven, reflecting the way people of that era actually lived and how they perceived each other. So different from dry history books! And had I been more patient, many of the questions I wanted to ask were answered in McGrath's postscript. Best of all, I understand that there are more books about the Godwin women on their way!
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    18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Exquisitely crafted... 19 Dec. 2013
    Exquisitely crafted and meticulously researched, 'The Handfasted Wife' takes a poignant look at the lives of some of the leading women affected by the power politics and turmoil at the time of the Norman Conquest. The novel has an original focus on Edith (Elditha) Swanneck, the love-wife of Harold Godwinson, last Anglo Saxon King of England, a lady who is set aside when her husband is crowned with devastating consequences for her and her children. 'The Handfasted Wife' deals sensitively with the effect of war on women at a time when they had little control over their destinies, and with conflicts in faith and tradition when Christianity was supplanting Paganism. A story as finely worked as a precious tapestry; one for anyone with an interest in the Middle Ages or who enjoys sound biographical fiction.
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    38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful book of Edith Swan-Neck 4 July 2013
    By pike
    Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
    There are books that you want to finish at one go - the ones you want to race through the pages so that you will find out how the story ends. Then there are books that you want to savour - the ones you want to read slowly and enjoy every turn of the page, every single word, and every carefully placed punctuation mark, whilst trying to delay the inevitable end and feeling that you have lost a good friend. Carol McGrath's delightful The Handfasted Wife offers both of these reading experiences. Written in compelling prose, the book adroitly weaves the events of the precarious time to human life, the Norman conquest, into a rich tapestry and brings to life the story of Edith Swan-Neck, the handfasted wife of King Harold, from the few sources available.
    The Handfasted Wife is an incredibly well-researched book; it is steeped in the past, but it carries the weight of history lightly, just as a good historical novel should. The characters are drawn deftly and convincingly and you learn to love them. Without giving anything away, if I had to pick a favourite character, it would be, apart from the protagonist and the other remarkable women of the story, Padar, that wandering skald, who also turns out to be a warrior. To me, he is the nexus between the Vikings and the English, one of the intriguing characters that allows McGrath to give life to the multifaceted society of the eleventh century. Those who have knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon culture, enjoy spotting the many references to Old English poems and other cultural references. I personally relished the scene with Beowulf!
    I recommend The Handfasted Wife whole-heartedly to all fans of historical novels as well as to those interested in Anglo-Saxon period. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and was sorry when the book came to an end, but I am comforted in the fact that the story continues in the next instalment with Gunnhild. I cannot wait!
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    4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Great premise, wasted opportunity 28 Sept. 2014
    Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
    I loved the premise of this novel, and of the series: the Norman Conquest from the point of view of the women of the Saxon royal family. This one deals with Elditha Swanneck, King Harold's 'handfasted wife' and mother of his six children, who was put aside on the eve of the Battle of Hastings so he could make a political marriage.
    The fairytale-sounding opening chapter promised something really different, and after that you get a very good idea of what life could have been like in 1066 (for women at the top of the feudal system, at least).
    Unfortunately it takes more than a lot of research and some meticulous scene setting for these long-ago events to come alive: this story needed a big injection of emotion to make the characters and their relationships seem real. These women have lost everything, their husbands and sons are all dead or in exile, yet I was left completely dry-eyed as I plodded through some very dull journeys. In places it read more like a modern translation of a contemporary chronicle than a novel.
    It's a blank canvas, after all, so she could have done all sorts of things with it. What a wasted opportunity.
    But I didn't begrudge the bargain price, and I'll probably try the next in the series to see if it improves.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    4.0 out of 5 stars Handfasted to Harold Godwineson
    This book was a very good read. I am really interested in this period of time and different perspectives from different authors are always stimulating. Read more
    Published 5 days ago by Paula
    5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read, wanted it to go on
    Brilliant read,wanted it to go on.
    Published 11 days ago by Ronaldo
    5.0 out of 5 stars A New Look at Old History
    I really enjoyed this book.
    Published 2 months ago by Portlander
    5.0 out of 5 stars incredible lady!
    The story of Elfrida, wife of Harold, married in a traditional Anglo Saxon service of "Hand Fasting". Read more
    Published 2 months ago by mrs kay moses
    4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
    Good read
    Published 2 months ago by D. S. Williamson
    5.0 out of 5 stars I can recommend this book
    For a historical novel this book was almost a thriller. The research was detailed despite the paucity of material available to the author. A tense informative book.
    Published 3 months ago by bookworm
    5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended
    fast and efficient service - love the story
    Published 3 months ago by Yvonne
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Very enjoyable
    Published 3 months ago by WHITE WATER
    4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable book
    Greatly enjoyed this book, because this is a period of history I don't know that much about. Only disappointment was when I read the author's notes at the end and realised that... Read more
    Published 5 months ago by Ruth
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    good read, nearly ready for the next book.
    Published 5 months ago by Christine Harrison
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