– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘The Year We Lived’ blogtour, organized by The Coffee Pot Book Club.
To promote this book I have a guest post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Virginia grew up in Orkney, using the breath-taking scenery to fuel her imagination and the writing fire within her. Her favourite genres to write are fantasy and historical fiction, sometimes mixing the two together such as her newly-published book “Caledon”. She enjoys swashbuckling stories such as the Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and is still waiting for a screen adaption that lives up to the book!
When she’s not writing, Virginia is usually to be found teaching music, and obtained her MLitt in “History of the Highlands and Islands” last year. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of music, especially as a tool of inspiration. She also helps out with the John O’Groats Book Festival which is celebrating its 3rd year this April.
She now lives in the far flung corner of Scotland, soaking in inspiration from the rugged cliffs and miles of sandy beaches. She loves cheese, music and films, but hates mushrooms.
Book Title: The Year We Lived
Author: Virginia Crow
Publication Date: 10th April 2021
Page Length: approx. 118,000 words – approx. 350 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
It is 1074, 8 years after the fateful Battle of Hastings. Lord Henry De Bois is determined to find the secret community of Robert, an Anglo-Saxon thane. Despite his fervour, all his attempts are met with failure.
When he captures Robert’s young sister, Edith, events are set in motion, affecting everyone involved. Edith is forced into a terrible world of cruelty and deceit, but finds friendship there too.
Will Robert ever learn why Henry hates him so much? Will Edith’s new-found friendships be enough to save her from De Bois? And who is the mysterious stranger in the reedbed who can disappear at will?
A gripping historical fiction with an astonishing twist!
Guest Post :
Effect of the Battle of Hastings – England as a Frontier
The word ‘frontier’ conjurers up various images. To me it speaks of the Midwest, or maybe Star Trek with its “final frontier”. But the final frontier in England, the last time England was a frontier landscape, was really in the post-Hastings period. When I was writing The Year We Lived, I wanted to really get to grips with the idea of England as frontier-land. In school we’re taught about the strategy of the Battle of Hastings, and the politics which led up to it, but we were never taught about the aftereffects on the landscape. Delving back into my own family tree research provided a pretty good example of this. William Peverel (my 30th Great-Grandfather) was awarded vast areas of land in the centre of England, far into the Norman frontier, and he is accredited with building castles throughout this area as a way to state and maintain his power – in true frontier fashion! A lot of the invaders in The Year We Lived owe much to what I know of Peverel and his legacy.
Of course, on every frontier there are the people who were there first. While Æthelstan is generally regarded as being the first King of England, it has to be acknowledged that the Anglo-Saxons had been working steadily towards this for several years, with varying degrees of engagement and success! But while these kingdoms had been drawn together, there had remained a certain amount of identity within this landscape. It was a logical decision to set the story in the Fens, as it is a place I am familiar with, and also a place which has undergone an enormous geographical change. Hiding an entire community within this landscape was not only easy but quite believable as Lincolnshire and Norfolk have been entirely changed by the draining of the Fens. This landscape is now barely recognisable and dozens of references to settlements from the Doomsday Book have been entirely lost, some only preserved by their name on that page.
The Doomsday Book in itself demonstrates how the Normans sought to temper and tame their new lands. By the time it was collated the fingers of the frontier men had become like claws which gripped their new titles and lands. I always feel the Doomsday Book was a little bit like the Norman equivalent to a flag in Eddie Izzard’s sketch (’Do You Have a Flag?’ from “Dress to Kill”), something along the lines of: “We’ve got our names in this book, so it’s definitely ours”.
All in all, history remembers the Normans very favourably. We’re almost encouraged to celebrate the end of those savage Saxons. And yet, most of us still engage as much with the Saxon legacy as we do the Norman one, just in our usual everyday life.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds