Skip to main content

Review: Gildenford, by Valerie Anand

Pages: 392

Original date of publication: 1977

My edition: 1977 (Charles Scribners Sons)

Why I decided to read: recommendation on

How I acquired my copy:

In 1036, a brutal massacre took place at Gildford, of Alfred the Atheling and his followers by Harold Harefoot, soon after to become King of England. That event, and the events of the thirty years following it, would lead up to one of the seminal moments of English history: the invasion of England by William of Normandy and his followers, in 1066. Gildenford is the story of both sides of the conflict over possession of the crown, with Brand Woodcutter, a retainer of Earl Godwin of Wessex, caught in the crossfire.

This novel is a very strong, real depiction of England in the years leading up to the conquest. Brand is a character to whom I became strongly attached: honorable yet conflicted over the decision he must make. As the novel mentions towards the end, Brand is the kind of person who wants to live his life with a worthy purpose, but nonetheless destined to behave deceptively. It’ll be interesting to see where the Conquest and Duke William take him.

Brand has every reason to hate and enact revenge upon Godwin and the Godwinssons, but he doesn’t, which I think says a lot about the quality of his character. I’ve not read a lot of fiction set in this period, apart from Helen Hollick’s portrayal of Emma in A Hollow Crown, so I was intrigued by this more rounded-out look of the period. In A Hollow Crown, Emma’s the protagonist, and obviously portrayed sympathetically; and she comes off less well in this novel, at least at first.

This is a very strong novel about the effects one person’s (or many people’s) actions have upon many, even many years after the fact. The characters in this novel are very real and believable (Anand toned down Edward the Confessor’s piousness a bit, however). It’ll be interesting to see how the story continues in the next book in the trilogy, The Norman Pretender (in some ways I already know, but that won’t stop me from reading the book). This book is rare and rather hard to find at a reasonable price, but well worth buying if you do.


Misfit said…
The entire series is excellent, glad you enjoyed the first. BTW, take a look at Lord of Sunset by Parke Godwin. Another set in this period but from Harold and Edith Swan Neck's POV
Daphne said…
I've read the first two and agree with Misfit that they are excellent. I was lucky and got copies before before the price became out of control. Maybe someday they will make their way to Sourcebooks...
Katherine said…
Oh, no! Not another book to add to the TBR Mountain!
Misfit said…
Hehe, I live to corrupt. I've just started Lord of Sunset so I'll let you know.

I agree with Daphne, Sourcebooks needs to do something about Anand's books. They deserve a wider audience.

Pssst, you should be able to get the Godwin book via ILL, my library has it and they participate in the program.
Katherine said…
Oooh, my library system has several copies...
Marg said…
I read the Tudor mysteries that Anand wrote under the name Fiona Buckley but haven't ever actually gotten around to reading any of her Anand books. One day.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: The Tudor Secret, by CW Gortner

Pages: 327Original date of publication:My edition: 2011 (St. Martin’s)Why I decided to read: Heard about this through Amazon.comHow I acquired my copy: Amazon Vine, December 2010Originally published as The Secret Lion, The Tudor Secret is the first in what will be a series featuring Brendan Prescott, an orphan foundling who was raised in the household of the Dudley family. In 1553, King Edward is on his deathbed, and William Cecil gives a secret mission Brendan. Soon he finds himself working as a double agent, as he attempts to discover the secret of his own birth.There ‘s a lot to like in this novel, mainly in the historical details that the author weaves into the story. He knows Tudor history like the back of his hand, and it definitely shows in this book. Because it was his first novel, however, there are some rough patches. There were a couple of plot holes that I had trouble navigating around—primarily, why would a secretive man such as Cecil entrust a seemingly nobody with this …

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy:, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy:, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…