|St Martin's Griffin|
We Know her name. We know her naked ride. We don't know her true story.
The legend of Lady Godiva is steeped within our culture - in fact we have a colloquial saying, hereabouts, ..."who do you think you are, Lady Godiva...” meaning of course, that you think you are somebody rather special...
Well, for me this book was indeed rather special as it cleverly combines both myth and factual evidence and puts forward what we think we know about the Anglo-Saxon way of life. However, we must also remember that the eleventh century was a shadowy time, steeped in culture and custom and alive with intrigue and danger. In this tough and lawless time in our history, constant and vicious attack often overshadowed daily life and as such, Godiva, newly bereaved, and a lone female landowner, was a ripe target for violence. Her expedient marriage to Leofric of Mercia was as much about protection and security as it was about mutual attraction. In this story, which charts the events which led to Godiva's naked ride through the streets of Coventry, we learn much about the values and moralities of Anglo-Saxon life and of the limitations placed on those women who dared to challenge male supremacy.
There is lovely lyrical quality to the story which captures the very essence of Godiva; she cared passionately for her lands, and she laid bare both her body and soul to achieve what was right and proper for her people. The relationship between Godiva and Leofric is depicted as a meeting of equals, they are not always comfortable with each other, and yet, there is an undeniable sensuousness between them that warms the heart. Beautifully evocative of a long forgotten age, life in the middle lands of Engla-lond with Godiva and Leofric comes alive in perfect detail in this story of love, loyalty, passion and betrayal. But what really shone throughout the story, for me, was the wonderfully evocative phrasing which the author uses to such great advantage and which evokes such a feeling of completeness.
I especially liked the references at the start of each chapter to Alfred, Lord Tennyson's epic poem, Godiva, and the author's comprehensive historical notes at the start of the novel really help to put time and place in firmly into context.
Best read with a brimming cup of yeasty beer... and maybe a sweet apple pudding laced with honey...
About the author
You can read an interview with Eliza Redgold here.
My thanks to the author for sharing her book with me.