12 March 2015

Excerpt Thursday: THE SWAN-DAUGHTER by Carol McGrath

This week, we're welcoming author Carol McGrath, whose latest title is THE SWAN-DAUGHTER, book #2 of The Daughters of Hastings trilogyJoin us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the story. One lucky visitor will get a free copy of The Swan-Daughter - this giveaway is open worldwideBe sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's post or Sunday's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb. 

It is 1075 and Dowager Queen Edith, widow of Edward the Confessor has died. Her niece Gunnhild, longs to leave Wilton Abbey where she had been a guest since 1066. Is her suitor Alan of Richmond, Breton knight and cousin to King William interested in her inheritance as the daughter of King Harold and Edith Swan-Neck or does he love her for herself? And is her love for Count Alan an enduring love or has she made a mistake. Then there is Count Alan’s younger brother! The Swan-Daughter is a true eleventh century tale of elopement and a love triangle.

Praise for The Swan-Daughter

‘A wise and lyrical evocation of the lives of women in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest, and high romance in the true sense of the word. A captivating read.’ Sarah Bower , best- selling author, Needle in the Blood.

‘She [Carol McGrath] brings the 11th century alive, packing in a wealth of well-researched detail. Her style is easy to read and her Gunnhild is a rounded and sympathetic character.’ The Historical Novels Review, February 2015.

** An Excerpt from The Swan-Daughter, Chapter One**

It had been so easy to take it. 
            As Wilton Abbey’s bell tolled for her dead aunt’s midnight vigil, everyone- priests, nuns, novices, postulants and girls- passed through the archway into the chill of St Edith’s chapel. Gunnhild hovered near the back of the gathering. When the nuns’ choir began to sing the first plainsong, she lifted a candle from a niche close to the doorway, cupped her free hand around it and slipped out into the cloisters. She hurried along a pathway through overhanging shadows until she reached her aunt’s apartment, rooms that were set away from the main abbey buildings. Pushing open the doors she crept into the reception hall, crossed her aunt’s, the dead queen’s antechamber, the great bed-chamber and finally into Aunt Edith’s vast wardrobe. I must find it because when I do I shall have a suitable garment to wear when I leave this place. I must take it before it is given to that dwarf, Queen Matilda.
She set her candle in an empty holder on a side table a little distance from the hanging fabrics and stepped into the space between wooden clothing poles. Frantically, her fingers began fumbling amongst Aunt Edith’s garments.  Which one was it? No, not those woollen gowns, nor the old linen ones either. No, look again.
Gunnhild moved along a rail by the wall fingering linens and silks until finally she found what she sought at the very end. She reached out and touched the overgown, pulled it down and took it out into the candlelight. Its hem was embellished with embroidered flowers- heartsease or pansies- in shades of purples and blues with centres of glistening pearls. Her aunt had worn it when Gunnhild had first travelled to be with her in Winchester for the Pentecost feast of 1066, just after Aunt Edith’s husband, King Edward, had died and Gunnhild’s father was crowned king. She had remarked then to Aunt Edith that heartsease was her favourite flower and Aunt Edith had lifted her hand, smoothed it along the silk and said, ‘One day, this dress will belong to you.’
The Swan-Daughter by Carol McGrath published by Accent Press 11th December 2014

The Swan-Daughter is available from all good bookshops and on amazon.co.uk and amazon .com and all e readers.

About the Author

Carol McGrath lives in Oxfordshire, England with her husband and family. She taught History until she undertook an MA in Creative Writing at The Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University Belfast, followed by an MPhil in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her debut novel, The Handfasted Wife, first in a trilogy about the royal women of 1066 was shortlisted for the RoNAS, 2014 in the historical category. The Swan-Daughter is second in the trilogy and published in 2014. It is also a stand- alone novel. The third, The Betrothed Sister, set in the medieval Ukraine and Denmark, and about Harold’s elder daughter will be published in 2015. Carol can often be discovered in Oxford’s famous Bodleian Library where she undertakes meticulous research for her novels. Find Carol on her website: