Author: Nicole Galland
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: July 2, 2013
Source: TLC Book Tours
Why You're Reading This Book:
- You're a historical fiction fan.
From Goodreads.com: "Everyone knows the legend of Lady Godiva-the woman who (in)famously rode naked on horseback through Coventry to relieve her people from unfair taxation. But why would a lady of the court take it all off and risk everything, including husband, home, and well-being?
In this richly imagined retelling of an oft-told ancient tale, Nicole Galland gives us Lady Godiva in all her, um, glory, as she and her best friend (the Abbess Egdiva) and husband (Leofric, Earl of Mercia) embark on an adventure filled with courtly intrigue, deceit, back-stabbing, and romance."
My Two Cents:
I'm guessing there are many people out there who knew very little about Lady Godiva than her infamous naked ride like myself. This legendary tale was pretty much the only thing that I knew about Godiva before reading this book. Galland shows us that there is so much more to this lady than just that juicy tale.
I love books that take a story or legend that many know so little about and turn it into a full length book. On top of reading a great story, you get to learn a little something as well. "Godiva" is about so much more than just that infamous ride. This book starts out a little slowly but picks up as we learn more about the relationships between Godiva and her husband as well as the relationship between Godiva and her best friend, who has become a nun and is hiding a major secret. I almost enjoyed the relationship between Godiva and Edgiva more than any of the other story lines in the book.
I did find myself wanting to learn a little bit more about why Godiva takes her famous ride. It seems very risky for the time, even for someone of such social stature and someone so outspoken as Lady Godiva. Why does she care about the taxes so much? Is she trying to prove a point? Is she being altruistic? We get little bites of what her reasoning may be. I really wanted to know more.
Overall, I really enjoyed the story. Female friendships are always very interesting to me, especially those of women who have such different lives like Godiva and Edgiva. This book is a great jumping off point for those who want to get to know the woman behind the story.
Interview with the Author:
I'm excited to have Nicole here to A Bookish Affair. Awesome Nicole recreated Lady Godiva's famous ride with the help of a talented friend. How awesome is this picture?
|© Sarah Mayhew, 2012|
1. Why do you think we are all still so intrigued with the story of Lady Godiva?
My gut reaction is simply to say, “Because well-behaved women rarely make history!” and leave it at that. But of course there’s more going on – what’s really intriguing is WHY she made her famous ride. (My explanation differs from the original legend, by the way.)
There’s a natural reaction to how bizarre the original legend is. For those who don’t know it, here’s the gist of Roger of Wendover’s version, the first written account: Earl Leofric of Mercia was overtaxing the citizens of Coventry, and refused his wife Godiva’s plea to lower the tax unless she agreed to ride naked through the streets. After making sure he was serious about it, she made the ride. He ensured nobody saw her do it, and then, delighted with her, he lowered the tax.
Historically speaking, we know that did not happen, but that’s the original story. And it’s a pretty strange story.
Even knowing things did not happen that way (Leofric didn’t actually have the right to tax Coventry), I take incredible delight in the original legend, because it treats outrageous details as if they were perfectly normal. He wanted his wife to ride naked through town? This somehow made it worth his while to lower the tax? And she felt strongly enough about the tax (in a tiny hamlet) to do such a thing? And he was “delighted”? Also: while he wanted her to do it, he didn’t want any one to see her do it? There are so many “say WHAT?” bits.
Also: I don’t know if it’s a reaction against our Puritan roots, but as a culture, we love naughtiness. And there is something innately naughty about the idea of a woman riding naked on a horse – no matter the context. So on the basest level, let’s face it: it is titillating. Made even more intriguing by the fact that it’s a titillating POLITICAL act. To go back to my original comment: Well-behaved women rarely make history...
2. What was your research process like for this book? Was it any different than the research you have done for your other books?
There was one very significant difference: my field research was a little more extreme this time. After months – years, really – of diligent research in libraries, in Herefordshire, in Coventry, I realized that the heart of the story was completely visceral, and I was going to have ride naked on a horse. So I did. There are (very discreet) pictures to prove it.
Otherwise, I did what I usually do: a sort of call-and-response between story and research. I get a sense of the story, I start the research called for by the story; the research reveals more to me than I’d expected, so I expand the story to accommodate the research, which in turn requires more research... Finally, because I am writing an historical novel, not a history book, I let the story gel, and then do a final polish in which I both tweak the story so that it isn’t defying historical plausibility, and also add final little scrumptious historical details I found along the way.
This is probably a good place to declare a Mea Culpa, in that arena: there is one small but pronounced historical inaccuracy in Godiva. Nausea is referred to as a “stomach bug” in one scene, which does not reflect the medieval understanding of illness (they didn’t know about germs). The phrase allowed me to make a pun I was fond of, so I kept it in, but even as I wrote it I knew I was cheating, and I am sure all my medievalist friends will jeer at me about it.
3. Do you have a favorite character in Godiva? Can you tell us a little bit more about them?
But Godiva is really such fun. She is the most fun character I’ve written since Gwirion, the fool in my debut novel The Fool’s Tale. Gwirion is a rebellious prankster, who doesn’t always have control over his mischief, and his story is ultimately darker than Godiva’s... So Godiva wins the Most Fun award.
4. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
5. If you could bring any three historical or fictional figures with you to a deserted island, who would you bring? I’d start with Noah (whether he’s historical or fictional, that I leave to others to debate) because he could build a boat and get us out of there.But some of our most gifted artists, in all media, have multi-faceted voices. Many writers and other storytellers are shape-shifters, or find our voices by constantly evolving. For every “branded” success there are hundreds, probably thousands, of “branded” non-successes; branding in itself is just one tool in a large toolbox. The most important tool is good writing. If your writing is good enough, somebody will want to be on your team. If that person wants to figure out how to brand you, and you trust their judgment (TRUST, capital letters), then work with them. But do not hobble your own creativity on the grounds that having a “brand” might help. I have recently decided that aspiring writers need to be reassured NOT to follow a piece of advice that seems to be all the rage now: don’t feel you must “brand” yourself. Don’t feel you have to “find your voice” as if your voice were one specific thing, and then stick to that. If self-branding comes naturally to you, that’s fine; in some ways you might have a market advantage. But if it doesn’t, don’t feel you have to figure out how to pigeonhole yourself. Your attempting to do so will only compromise the integrity of your work.
I may get a lot of flack for saying that, because the “brand” imagery is very popular these days, from self-published writers to agents to the PR departments of large houses. It springs from an urgent need to figure out how to market a writer in a world where the publishing industry is in turmoil. That works brilliantly for some people. If you’re one of those people – if you innately have a very clear sense of who you are and what kind of story you want to tell in various iterations indefinitely (or if you’re more interested in selling than in writing something meaningful to you) – then ignore what I’m saying here.
Being a “recovering theatre worker” I would also choose Rosalind, from Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It, who is simply one of the most good-natured, charismatic characters ever created. She is upbeat, pro-active, witty, smart, passionate, and entertaining... and yet very human and sensitive. She is profoundly female and yet successfully taps into a genderless (if not sexless) humanity for most of the play. I enjoy and admire her deeply. It would be worth being stuck on a desert island just to have an excuse to hang out with her. She’s a great role model for people like me who worry and fret and ruminate instead of shrugging off misfortune and just getting on with things.
Finally, as a guilty pleasure, I’d want Francis Crawford of Lymond, from Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. He’s the ultimate Renaissance anti-hero. A friend gave me Game of Kings (the first book in the series) as a gift years ago (when I was single) with the inscription “I couldn’t get you a boyfriend, so instead I have brought you Lymond, the perfect man.” As I was reading the book I was incredulous that she had described him so, because he was perfectly evil – until the end of the book when suddenly I realized she was partly right. By the time I’d read the whole series, I realized she was completely right. Who wouldn’t want to be stranded on a desert island with the perfect man?
Follow the Rest of the Tour:
Tuesday, July 2nd: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, July 3rd: From L.A. to LA
Thursday, July 4th: West Metro Mommy
Monday, July 8th: Twisting the Lens
Tuesday, July 9th: Dreaming in Books
Wednesday, July 10th: A Dream Withing a Dream
Thursday, July 11th: A Bookish Affair
Saturday, July 13th: guiltless reading - guest post
Monday, July 15th: Col Reads
Tuesday, July 16th: Lectus
Wednesday, July 17th: nomadreader
Thursday, July 18th: guiltless reading
Tuesday, July 23rd: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Wednesday, July 24th: Broken Teepee