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The Handfasted Wife: The story of 1066 from the perspective of the royal women (The Daughters of Hastings) by [McGrath, Carol]
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The Handfasted Wife: The story of 1066 from the perspective of the royal women (The Daughters of Hastings) Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 203 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in The Daughters of Hastings (3 Book Series)

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Length: 378 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

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

McGrath's research into the medieval quotidian is superb, and beautifully translated into a pastoral fiction in the tradition of Hardy. ---- Historical Novel Society

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

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: 898 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
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 203 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,738 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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The Handfasted Wife, by Carol McGrath, is one of the many books which have come out in recent years surrounding the Norman invasion of 1066. For me, this was a five star book that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Carol has chosen to tell her tale about a year or so either side of the fateful months, and to focus on the person of Elditha (Edith) Swanneck – married to Harold according to popular customs and accepted as valid by most Saxon Christians of the time, but not legitimate according to the stricter rules of the European church.

Carol has delved heavily into the various literary sources referring to these years, with an appropriately critical eye depending on their authorship as well as their distance in time from the events. Small extracts from approximately contemporary texts stand at the head of each chapter, a device I personally enjoy. Indeed, the quality and detail of research stands out from the book as a major feature. There was a real sense of immersion in the age.

To some degree, this was a slight distraction – much as I like research, there were times in the first half of the book where it threatened to overwhelm the story. In ruthlessly objective terms, not a great deal happens for a fairly large chunk of the book, but Carol uses a lot of space informing us of local customs and everyday objects. In complete contrast, the second half of the book, involving flight and pursuit into the west of England and beyond, accelerates at a rapid rate.

One of my great joys of reading this book was simply the pleasure of knowing the terrain Elditha and her various companions move across – at least, the modern version of it.
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Thoroughly enjoyed this first novel from Carol McGrath about the usurped wife of King Harold. Beginning only a year before Hastings and when Edith Swan Neck first began to suspect that her husband of 17 years was about to put her aside for a younger, more politically useful model it told the (mostly imagined) story of what she did next.
Like previous reviewers I loved the character of Pedar, Harold's warrior skald send by him to look after Edith and her two younger children. Also tantalising glimpses of characters I'd love to see developed like the Irish/Viking Earl who aided Edith and her children, but perhaps they might appear in the proposed next two novels of the trilogy which will follow the lives of Edith's daughters.
A cracking tale.
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I have never really read any book pre Plantagenet, a book where I didn't know the story and how it ended. I knew of a Edith Swanneck and that she walked the battle field of Hastings searching for King Harold, but that was all. It was interesting to read about her life pre and post Hastings. She and Harold had a love story and she considered herself to be his wife and mother of his legitimate children. Good History books are there to take the reader on a journey through another time and place and hold the reader so that they do not want to come to the end. The Handfasted Wife does just that. I can not wait for the Daughters of Hasting - book II to come onto to Kindle - not long thank goodness. A good book, please more on the Normans and their families.
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An interesting story about a historical character I knew little about before this book. I enjoy historical novels and pride myself on my knowledge of British history however this was a period I had previously not explored. I enjoyed the way the author constructed the characters and the description of the aftermath of the battleground at Hastings after the battle was particularly moving. The book left me wanting to know more about the heroine and Harold and I have now spent time researching this and found the author described a good historical account - well done
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