I live in New York City and I'm surrounded by books all day and when I go home I have more books waiting for me. Read my "About" page on top to see what I mean. I just want to share my book experiences and my love of all-things-books, with hopefully the occasional review thrown in. If you wish to contact me, the address is polishoutlanderATgmailDOTcom

Godiva by Nerys Jones

Britain, 1045 – The Normans are circling, waiting their turn to pounce on the English throne and wrest it away from the Anglo-Saxon barons. King Edward the Confessor, the childless, half Norman ‘Virgin King’ does his Machiavellian best to aid them. Everything centres on the succession. Earl Lovric of Mercia and his powerful wife, Godiva – two of the most powerful of his Anglo-Saxon vassals are inevitably drawn into the machinations at Court. When Edward manipulates their son into a treasonable act and makes him a pawn in his power play, Godiva’s maternal instincts rise to the fore. Intrigue and power play undermine her own trust in her husband…and the stage is set for one of the most powerful mythological stories of British history. This is the story of an independent, resourceful and intelligent noble woman tested to the limits of her endurance, which illuminates one of the great myths of British history.

What a wonderfully written story about this myth/legend! I know it was historical fiction, but it did some insight as to how the event might have come to pass. I mean, it’s not everyday that the lady of the land walks through the town sitting stark naked on a horse.

Now traditionally, it is told that Lady Godiva rode naked at the request of her husband, saying he would do what she asked of him (to help the townsfolk) if she rode naked on a horse.  Here, in this story, it is at the request of the king, King Edward the Confessor, in order for her to repent for her sins, and so that her people wouldn’t get taxed.

So what do we have here? A very clever, cunning, and really weird king who manipulates his subjects to his whims. I really did not know about Edward the Confessor so it was interesting to know that history, and to see how his actions, or lack thereof (however you want to interpret them, since he was a supposedly a virgin), affected the kingdom. There’s a lot of politics involved in this story but the author does a good job of not confusing you. But everytime Edward showed up, I got very uncomfortable, only because I didn’t know what he was up to! Oh, and even the nuns were conniving! Who can anyone trust?

Now, as for Godiva herself….well…my only problem was that I didn’t believe her to be as loyal and pious as the book was supposed to show. I feel like there wasn’t enough background on her as a character to show that it was within reason for Godiva to give in to Edward’s demands. I wanted to read the backstory about her and her husband, and the fact that Lovric was her second husband, not just get glimpses of it through a few sentences here and there. Plus, her little love tryst seemed a bit out-of-character, but it did serve a purpose for the story overall. Again, I wanted to know more about Godiva. I guess I wanted the book to be thicker and longer. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed what I read, but it left me wanting more of the beginning, and not the end.

The author also writes up at the end of the actual history and events and people surrounding these events. Not only does the book shed light onto the legend, but also on the general politics.

Not sure what else to say. So do I recommend it? Yes! If you need a change of pace from the other historical fiction out there, then this is for you.

Below are some renditions of Godiva in various art forms:

Lady Godiva by John Collier

Lady Godiva by Edward Henry Corbould

Lady Godiva by Jules-Jospeh Lefebvre

Maureen O’Hara in the movie Lady Godiva of Coventry

The statue of Lady Godiva in Coventry’s Cathedral Lanes Shopping Centre

Lady Godiva by Edmund Blair Leighton, depicting the decision to do the ride

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