The Handfasted Wife

The Handfasted Wife 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

  • Title: The Handfasted Wife
  • Author: Carol McGrath
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 482
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • 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 HaThe 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 Elditha avoids an arranged marriage with a Breton knight by which her son might or might not be given into his care She makes her own choice and sets out through strife torn England to seek help from her sons in Dublin However, events again overtake her Harold s mother, Gytha, holds up in her city of Exeter with other aristocratic women, including Elditha s eldest daughter The girl is at risk, drawing Elditha back to Exeter and resistance Initially supported by Exeter s burghers the women withstand William s siege However, after three horrific weeks they negotiate exile and the removal of their treasure Elditha takes sanctuary in a convent where eventually she is reunited with her hostage son This is an adventure story of love, loss, survival and reconciliation.

    • The Handfasted Wife By Carol McGrath
      482 Carol McGrath
    • thumbnail Title: The Handfasted Wife By Carol McGrath
      Posted by:Carol McGrath
      Published :2019-07-26T13:23:10+00:00

    About “Carol McGrath

    • Carol McGrath

      My first degree is in History and English from Queens University Belfast I have a postgraduate MA in writing from Queens University and an Mphil in writing from The Royal Holloway ,University of London My debut novel The Handfasted Wife is the first in a Trilogy The Daughters of Hastings The first is the story of 1066 and its aftermath from the perspective of the noble women The Swan Daughter and The Betrothed Sister have followed All have been best sellers My new novel The Woman in the Shadows tells the tale of Thomas and Elizabeth Cromwell and is the story of an early Tudor marriage I am now working on a medieval trilogy about she wolf queens.

    741 thoughts on “The Handfasted Wife

    • Edith Swan-Neck first came to my notice when I read Georgette Heyer's The Conqueror when I was a teenager. I remember thinking 'Who was that?' I looked her up in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (no Internet then) and read a few terse details. And that was it. As Carol McGrath explains, there were few details recorded about Edith. She is one of the shadow women of history - an intriguing figure, important in late Anglo-Saxon England, but virtually wiped from the record. But the author has remedied t [...]

    • I found this an inventive read, the story of King Harold's first 'wife', joined to him by the ancient handfasting ceremony, whose marriage was dissolved after he became King because it had not been 'sanctified by the Church'.Harold subsequently remarries, and his handfasted wife Elditha then begins a life of exile from court and her husband. This further disintegrates after Harold's death, when her unfortunate young children are taken hostage by William the Conqueror and she herself is threatene [...]

    • I've read a lot of historical fiction, but this is the first that had The Battle of Hastings/Norman Conquest of 1066 as it's centerpiece. Again, I find myself expressing gratitude I was not around to be a part of this historical period (I usually say that about any historical period I read about). (view spoiler)[I know I can't be mad at the author because I was disgruntled about the ending, but I was still disappointed. Of course, logically I know history doesn't really have a lot of tidy happy [...]

    • Carol McGrath's novel brings to life a medieval woman very few people have heard of, let alone know from their history books - she is Edith (or Alfgytha) Swannhaels - Edith Swanneck, the handfasted wife of Harold Godwinsson, the last Anglo-Saxon King of England. Little is known about Edith, other than what we know from the historical documents that survive the time and oral tradition. Ms. McGrath does an excellent job of giving us a betrayed woman who rises above her circumstance after the 'Grea [...]

    • This was a beautiful frame story: a nun [possibly Elditha herself] narrates to a group of other nuns declaring: "My tale follows the fortunes of the woman whom Harold loved and who passionately loved him back; his handfasted wife Edith [called Elditha in the story], she of the elegant swan's neck. After he became king, he betrayed Elditha and sent her away. But that is not the end of her story. It is but a beginning." This novel tells of the time of the Norman Conquest of England from the viewp [...]

    • The Handfasted Wife is the story of Edith (Elditha as she is called in this novel), the first wife of Harold Godwinson. Since this book starts with King Edward near death and Harold soon follows him, the focus is on Elditha as she is forced to decide what to do as Norman invaders swarm through England.The premise of this novel is certainly interesting. Little is known of what happened to Harold's wives and children after his death. Obviously, disappearing was the best way to save their own skin, [...]

    • I have a problem reading books where I know beforehand there is no happy ever after. In this particular case, I know Harold and his Elditha will never experience old age, seeing as he died at the battle of Hastings. It makes me sort of weepy, and I am ridiculously glad that, as per this book, they had some weeks together before the momentous events that would transform England forever.Elditha Swanneck is an engaging character, mild but assertive, capable and wise. She handles her affairs in the [...]

    • An appreciation for Anglo-Saxon history and a moving tale about the repercussions of Harold Godwinson’s death at Hastings are the two main elements of this novel by Carol McGrath. Through the perspective of Harold’s common-law wife Edith Swanneck (Eldith in the story), the author has created a plausible storyline of England after the Battle of Hastings, the wife’s struggles to keep her and her children safe from the conqueror’s intimidation, and the many glaring divergence between old an [...]

    • Opening Line: "Tell us a story, you say. Then let us sit by our frames and listen to a tale while we work."You could be forgiven, I suppose, for believing, from the opening lines, that this is a novel aimed primarily at a female market. But it is not! The prose is lyrical but relaxed, a well-paced narrative that takes us back to the Norman invasion of England in 1066, weaving just enough of the familiar background to keep us within the tapestry borders of the King Harold story - his rise to the [...]

    • The Handfasted Wife is the story of the Norman Conquest from the perspective of Edith (Elditha)Swanneck, Harold's common-law wife. The story begins with King Edward, the Confessor's demise. She arrives with her younger children at court for the Christmas celebrations only to find that the King, who has been on the throne for more than twenty years, is gravely ill. Edward has not even until now, proclaimed his successor but there is a name on everyone's lips - Elditha's husband, Harold, Earl of W [...]

    • A substantial treasure trove of historical information about the 11th century, as well as a gripping story. Edith Swan-Neck is a character with stubborn integrity who remains faithful to her hand-fasted husband despite the Norman invaders. Forced to flee to Ireland, she undergoes a series of adventures which test her courage and that of Padar, her companion. Equally suitable I would think for both a male and female readership this is a book that speaks for all those who have had to endure being [...]

    • HISTORICAL MASTERPIECEThis book is a rarity - it is an intelligent, excellently researched piece of writing, combining a powerful story that is both classic and modern in construction. Everyone knows (or, at least, ought to know) the story of 1066 - the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest. What Carol McGrath has done so skilfully here, is to recount the background story from the point of view of the ill fated King Harold's hand fasted wife, Elditha. The story moves at pace and is an utter [...]

    • 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 experience [...]

    • I received this book via Firstreads in exchange for an honest review.Edith Swanneck has fascinated me since the moment I first heard a two-sentence summary of her life in the middle of an English history class. It amounted essentially to "She was married to Harold when he fell at Hastings, was remarkably lovely, and died in a convent. Finis." I knew immediately that there had to be more to her than that, as someone moving through one of the greatest turning points of English history and who surv [...]

    • I don't usually read novels in this period but I found Carol Mcgrath's book about Edith Swanneck (Elditha), the handfasted wife of King Harold, absolutely fascinating. The author has obviously done a lot of research which gives the book an authentic feel of the period immediately before and after the Norman Conquest. Some of her characters ranging from noblewomen and men, merchants, commoners and the clergy are based on actual people while others are made up but they are all believable. Her desc [...]

    • A little slow in places, but on the whole a thoughtful and evocative read that tackles the family politics surrounding 1066. McGrath really gives a voice to the women who were left behind after Hastings and explores their position as relics of an old order with nuance, depth and copious research.

    • Beautifully woven fact and fiction!Having recently read and enjoyed 'The Chosen Queen' by Joanna Courtney, I had to quickly dispel my presumption that Elditha Swanneck and Aldgyth of Wales were friends! However, the overlap between these tales only covers a few months, where the two women were living very separate and different lives, so it was easy to take up the thread of the experiences of Elditha.We learn of the death on King Edward the Confessor and of the chaotic state of the country Harol [...]

    • $2.99This is a story (fictional) about Edith (known as Elditha in this book) Swan Neck also known as Edith the Fair who was married to King Harold, the last Anglo-Saxon king. They were not married through the church (they were cousins of some sort), and so they were wed in a handfasted ceremony. They were married for about 15 years and had perhaps 6 children before Harold became king of England. This is something Elditha didn't want, and although very little is known about her (most notably she [...]

    • I was attracted by this book because it deals with the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings and the early years of the Norman Conquest. This is a subject I have written about so I was especially keen to read a novel which focused on the strong women who were forced to come to terms with a world where the old values and certainties were daily being swept away.This book did not disappoint. The central characters are brought vividly to life. Their motivations are complex and make the reader wonder j [...]

    • I received this book in a giveaway. I opened the package the day it was delivered, it was really very exciting. The best part was my intentions were to just check it over, read the synopsis on the back cover, maybe the prologue, but to my utter surprise, I found myself immediately engrossed and from that moment, everything going on within my household was gone, I was transported in time to the year of our Lord 1065 and my family suddenly had to fend for themselves, cooking, laundrywhatever. Noth [...]

    • The Handfasted WifeI was bowled over by this rich tapestry of a book which brought to life an era I knew little about previously. Its sweeping broad canvas, from the days before the Battle of Hastings, through to the siege of Exeter is dramatic, full of well researched details and a moving human story. Embroidered with many memorable scenes such as Elditha's search for her husband's remains on the battlefield, this fascinating period in history comes alive. The brutal horror of the Norman invasi [...]

    • It is very rare that I cannot finish a book, this is one instance where that has happened. I tried my best, I even made it halfway through, but just could not do it without damaging my Kindle (from throwing it against the wall out of frustration and aggravation).The subject is a good one and one that interested me. It is rare where an author tries to take on what happened to Elditha after the Battle of Hastings. And I really think this could have been a very good story. It is the writing that ki [...]

    • A fantastic first novel concerning a much neglected era of English History. Carol draws us serenely through the lives of characters for whom she obviously feels empathy. She writes with a delicate touch and delves into the every day lives of those living in England in 1066, not just about the major politics of the day, but about the mundane normality of their lives, bringing them off the page.The women are the strong ones here, the men do as they are told. King Harold is the only one who does as [...]

    • Seriously, who wrote the description to this book? It's like when you see the preview of a movie and turn to your husband and say, "well, no need to see the actual movie now SINCE YOU JUST GAVE ME THE THIRTY SECOND COMPLETE STORY ALONG W ENDING." Geesh, avoid the description for this book people if you want anything to be an actual surprise! They should have just written THE END at bottom.

    • I am excited and grateful to be a winner, looking forward to reading the book. :). A beautifully, detailed writing of the historic hand fasted wife Elditha and her and her children's journey

    • Agood, historical fiction concerning the time of William the Conqueror's conquest of England from the viewpoint of the wife of King Harold, loser of the Battle of Hastings. I enjoyed the story very much.

    • Historical fiction centered on the handfasted wife of Harold - who died at the Battle of Hastings. Very well done tale!

    • I've been having a bit of a binge on Anglo Saxons lately, listening to the rather good History of Anglo Saxon England podcast and reading Paul Kingsnorth's The Wake so this seemed like a good read for a week off.Harald, of arrow in the eye fame, had two wives. He married the second shortly before his death, in a formal church ceremony. There seems to be some historical confusion about the nature of his first marriage, to Edith, and Carol McGrath takes it to have been a traditional Danish 'handfa [...]

    • A good story, giving a glimpse into the Norman conquest of 1066, told from the point of view of the women who were left behind to struggle on feeding, caring for, organizing, comforting and encouraging the very young and very old who were also left behind. The main character is a woman, named Elditha, who was handfasted to Harold, the man who would become king on the death of his brother. Handfasting was an ancient mating ceremony, long considered in pre-Christian times to be as binding as marri [...]

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