Review of Peaceweaver by Lisa Yarde of The Historical Novel Review
History often recalls the hand-fasted wife of Harold Godwinson, last King of the Saxons, but little is known about his queen, Eadgyth, daughter of Earl Aelfgar of Mercia. She was a descendant of the Lady Godiva of Coventry legend, and the child-bride of a Welsh King before becoming Harold’s queen. Author Judith Arnopp has weaved a wonderful tale of Eadgyth’s life, interspersing fact, and fiction. Her meticulous research and unique storytelling made Peaceweaver a delightful read.
When Eadgyth’s father barters her to the Welsh King, Gruffydd ap Llewellyn, she endures exile in an alien world with only her loyal servant Anwen for comfort. She submits to Gruffydd’s cold and cruel attentions, and bears children for a husband more than twice her age. But sons are not the only joy of Eadgyth’s life, when she finds a forbidden love. As unexpected as it is, another drastic change comes when her husband learns of the affair, just before his downfall.
Swept away to England by the charismatic Harold Godwinson, Eadgyth enters the English court of Edward the Confessor. Harold’s unabashed pursuit of her re-awakens a love she never thought to feel again, but specters of Harold's past always intrude on their happiness. On the eve of Hastings, Eadgyth risks her safety to be by the side of a man she never thought she would love, as he faces the greatest threat his kingdom has ever known.
The period before the Norman Conquest of 1066 is a long-time favorite of mine. I found many things remarkable about Peaceweaver, the most important being that Queen Eadgyth was so young during this tumultuous period in England. She must have been a remarkable woman to bear the attentions of her first husband, and survive the difficult reign of her second husband. In the first twenty-one years of her life, she saw dramatic changes and lived through them. I was also surprised at how much this story touched me. In Peaceweaver, the love between the central characters is devout and palpable, and all of the characters, both real and invented, are fully fleshed out. In particular, Ms. Arnopp has made Harold Godwinson come alive on the page, a brave but flawed man. Although I know the story of his death as well as any English school child taught about Hastings, it always makes me very sad to read about it. Reading it from the perspective of his young queen was at times heartbreaking, but always a joy.
READER COMMENTS ON PEACEWEAVER
This is a wonderfully written piece of literary fiction, very highly polished! The descriptive prose and the dialogue is rich and has an authentic historical feel to it. -KIM
This is an intelligent book, one we not only enjoy but learn from. Because of the elegant prose, it is a lovely experience in every way. The text is polished to perfection and the author's literary talent sings. - LIZZIE
I love the writing, very fluid and a joy to read. The narrative voice is almost hypnotic it grabbed me and dragged me along, weaving my way through history and the wonderful prose. A stunning addition to the genre. - MEL
What a FANTASTIC read! I loved this...well, it is one of my favourite periods in history, but Judith has recreated it sooooo well. - FRANCESCA
This is an extraordinarily well thought-out tale that offers evidence of profound knowledge in history and painstaking research into the medieval era in which it takes place. The accuracy of the period seems near-flawless if not completely without error, and it is clear the author has done her homework. The charachers are real and the surroundings so lifelike as to transport the reader back in time -ROSS
Rich, brooding, atmospheric, this well-written tale of medieval plotting and politicking feels entirely authentic. The landscape is alive in an animistic way, powerful, cruel, and beautiful. Eadgyth is chattel, a political pawn, as were all women of the period. A beautifully painted historical novel. - RUTH
This is a beautifully told tale of the time of William The Conqueror's defeat of Saxon Britain. The narrative prose is truly excellent and your characters just leap off the page.