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The Swan-Daughter (The Daughters of Hastings Book 2) by [McGrath, Carol]
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The Swan-Daughter (The Daughters of Hastings Book 2) Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Length: 370 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

'A wise and lyrical evocation of the lives of women in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest, and high romance in the true sense of the word. A captivating read. -- Sarah Bower, author of The Needle in the Blood and The Book of Love

About the Author

Carol McGrath taught History and English for many years in both the state and private sectors. She left teaching to work on a MA in Creative Writing from Queens University Belfast, then an MPhil in English at Royal Holloway, London, where she developed her expertise on 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 Swan-Neck, first came to her on a visit to Bayeux with the Launton/Gavray Twinning Society, which she chaired. Carol 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: 1024 KB
  • Print Length: 370 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Accent Press (24 July 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00L5JN5K2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #12,289 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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The Swan-Daughter is a lovely story. It tells the tale of Gunnhild, one of the daughters of King Harold of 1066 fame, and his first wife, Edith, known for her beauty as Edith Swanneck. Edith Swanneck’s story is told in 'The Handfasted Wife’. The Swan-Daughter is the second in the trilogy of The Daughters of Hastings.

Once again, the reader is taken back to the period of the early Normans, which is exquisitely conveyed through the attention to detail that Carol McGrath, a highly skilled researcher, has paid to the period.

The political events of the times are brought alive for the reader, and are a backdrop for a vivid depiction of the lives of the people at that time, of the castles and houses in which they lived, rich and poor, of their food, their clothes, of childbirth and medical care, of the role that religion plays in society and especially of the position of women in the Middle Ages. The constraints and obligations placed upon women at that time, particularly those born to the nobility, are graphically captured in the pages of the novel, and will be of great interest, I'm sure, to women of today.

Gunnhild was brought up in Wilton Abbey, and not surprisingly since she is an heiress of importance, the church is keen for her to stay in the nunnery. Gunnhild, however, has no desire for a religious life, nor for any sort of life within the precincts of a nunnery. She longs to escape, and she longs for love. The possibility of escape comes in the attractive form of the slightly older Count Alan of Richmond and Brittany, the red-headed knight who had once been a suitor for her mother’s hand.

Count Alan’s path crosses Gunnhild's on more than one occasion, and each time they exchange friendly banter. He then proposes that they elope.
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This is the second of Carol McGrath's books on the daughters of King Harold (of arrow in the eye fame).

As in the Handfasted Wife, her first book in the series, this is a meticulously researched book. fortunately Carol has the gift of not letting this get in the way of telling a rollicking good story. Its a fascinating era to write about, and in Carol's capable hands, to read about as well.

Alternating between England and Brittany, in a time when the Doomsday Book was causing all of England to re-evalueate their lives, and with a cracking love story at its heart, this was a really good read.

Now I'm looking forward to the final book in the trilogy.

John
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Another stunner from Ms McGrath takes us further in the story of the family of King Harold after he fell at the Battle of Hastings. This time we follow the life of his daughter, Gunnhild, which seems to belong to the realms of Hollywood sensationalism but is actually entirely true. Avoiding spoilers, we are taken from England to Brittany and back again, meeting new characters, some of whom are warm and friendly, others not so, yet all are perfectly rounded and believable.

What Ms McGrath excels at is bringing you into a Medieval household and making it feel as real and vital as one's own. The detail is extraordinary and vivid and so recognisable - people were no different to us, they still ate, drank and coveted clothes and sparkly things. Gunnhild's near obsession with a gown belonging to her aunt is touching and so very human, taking her from childhood to womanhood.

This novel can be read as a stand alone story and works well as such, but to fully appreciate the impact of the events that over-take the characters one really should read 'The Handfasted Wife' first. And why wouldn't you? It is just as brilliant as this novel.
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Couldn't wait for this second book from Carol McGrath. It continues the story of 'The Handfasted Wife, the daughters of Hastings'. It tells the story of Gunnhild one of the daughters of King Harold and Edith Swan-Neck. What a difficult but fascinating life Gunnhild must have had in a time when women were of no importance. The descriptions of Wilton Abbey were particularly fascinating as Wilton is near to where I live!
It is a beautifully written story, the sentences rolled like 'honey' on the page and any story that has me in tears for most of it warrants a second and even third re-read. Just can't wait for the third book now!!
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I so love these books although the Handfasted Wife is still my favourite. Carol has the knack of transporting you back to the time of Harold and the Norman conquest giving you a first class view of both the bigger political picture and the day to day lives of both ordinary and extraordinary people. How I hated Christina with her spitefulness and cruelty under the umbrella of the spiritual cleansing of the soul of human desires whilst trying to grab every bit of material wealth she could; aided and abetted by the disgusting Brother Francis. I loved the triangle of Hilde, Alan and Niall and won't divulge any more of their story you'll just have to read it for yourselves - highly recommended.
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The Swan-Daughter is even better than the Handfasted Wife, which is in itself an excellent read. It follows the adventures of Gunnhild, daughter of Elditha and King Harold. The period of the Norman Conquests is brought vibrantly to life by Carol McGrath, with all the rich detail of the period woven skilfully into the narrative.

Gunnhild is a sympathetic and believable heroine. She was brought up in the local Abbey, and as a noble lady the church has a vested interest in her lands and inheritance. Gunnhild has other ideas, feeling no desire for a life of seclusion. There appears to be a solution in the form of a suitor, Alan of Richmond, who at first appears to be all a woman of her status could desire. An elopement ensues, and Gunnhild imagines her future will be rosy. But as she uncovers more about her new husband, a controlling man who is more at home in battle than in the bedchamber, she begins to doubt his reasons for marrying her, and the love she so desperately needs seems to become even more elusive.

However, when her husband's duty takes him away from home, Gunnhild develops strengths she did not know she possessed.This is one of the pleasures of this book - watching Gunnhild mature and become the agent of her own destiny, no mean feat in this period of history. And of course there is a satisfying ending, which I wont reveal, because if you have any sense you'll click 'buy' and read it for yourself.

Although this is the second in a trilogy it stands well in its own right. However, you'll want to read the others in the series, they are so well-written and researched.
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