Wednesday 6 July 2022

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Maids of Biddenden by G D Harper


My thanks to the author for my copy of the book
and to Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to the blog tour

There is no me; there is no you.

There is only us.’

The Maids of Biddenden is inspired by the real-life story of conjoined twins Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, born in 1100 into a wealthy family from a small Kent village.

Joined at the hip, the sisters overcome fear and hostility to grow into gifted and much-loved women ­– one a talented musician and song-writer, the other a caring healer and grower of medicinal plants. Entangled in the struggles for power and influence of the great Kent nobles of the time, they achieve much in their lifetimes and leave behind a legacy in Biddenden that survives to this day.

This is the heart-warming and inspirational story of two remarkable women leading one joint life, challenging adversity to become the best they can be.

πŸ“– My Review 

I must admit that I had never heard of the Maids of Biddenden but inspired by their true story the author has presented a lively, fictional account of their lives in the early part of the twelfth century.

Initially born into a fairly wealthy family, the conjoined twins, Eliza and Mary Chulkhurst, were abandoned as babies and brought up, hidden from public view, at Malling Abbey in Kent. When the Abbey falls into financial difficulties, mainly due to the care of the twins, and the fact that visitors are discouraged from visiting the Abbey in case the girls are discovered, Eliza and Mary are sent to live with their father, and step-mother, which owing to the horror and superstition surrounding the twins, and their own distinct personalities, proves to be fraught with difficulties.

Writing historical fiction brings its own challenges especially when based around the lives of those characters who actually lived during this time but by cleverly weaving historical facts with sympathetic fiction a tale emerges of two young women, growing to adulthood in a time that was prejudiced against those who were seen to be different. Eliza and Mary are certainly brought to life, and I enjoyed watching their progression from children to adults. Their individual quirks come out along with the squabbles and yet there is also deep abiding affection for each other. We feel their innocent bewilderment when, as children, they realise that they are so very different from everyone else and we also rejoice when they each find something to excel at, and enjoy.

The Maids of Biddenden is an interesting, and well written, fictional biography of two fascinating characters who, if folk legend is to be believed, went on to bequeath lands, known as the Bread and Cheese Lands, to the folk of Biddenden which, even today, supports a charity which on Easter Monday doles out food to widows and pensioners living in the area.

🍜 Best Read with.. a pot of soup, simmering gently over the fire

About the Author

I became a full-time author in 2016, publishing three novels under the pen name GD Harper. I have been both a Wishing Shelf Book Award finalist and Red Ribbon winner, been shortlisted for the Lightship Prize, longlisted for the UK Novel Writing Award and longlisted for the Page Turner Writer Award. The Maids of Biddenden was a finalist in this year’s Page Turner Book Award for unpublished manuscripts, longlisted for the Exeter Book Prize and the Flash 500 Novel Award, and shortlisted for the Impress Prize

Twitter @harper_author #TheMaidsofBiddenden


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