The Wind From Hastings
by Morgan Llywelyn
Reviewed by Coral
This is the story of Edyth, grand-daughter of Lady Godiva (of the naked horseback riding fame), from childhood through banishment to her marriage to Harold, the man who would be king of England for but a year before the French Norman conquest of the island. Don't worry, I haven't given anything away. The Norman victory at Hastings happens on page 1 and then we flashback in time as Edyth remembers her life up to this point.
Morgan Llywelyn has a beautiful style of writing, though I will admit to not liking all her books. In this one she has somehow made the stereotypical noble daughter - the I-don't-want-to-marry-a-prince/man-I-don't-love type - morph into a realistic portrait of a woman's life in the 11th century.
Now I know I talk and talk about realism in stories, but that's only because I think it's one of the most important things in any type of story. I can't enjoy a movie if the plotline is ludicrous and I won't enjoy a book if the author tosses realism out the window.
We might look at Edyth's life and feel hatred or pity that she was sent to two marriages without her consent, but that's what happened back then. People found love as much as they found hate in arrange marriages. I read this book and I was thrilled with a character that could be both strong and yet do willingly what was her duty at the time. Those women in stories like these, who run away or throw tantrums when they aren't allowed to marry the handsome porter they love so much, are spoiled brats in my eyes. That may seem harsh, but when I pick up a historical fiction book I'm not looking for that one female character who gets to disobey all the rules and still finds true love and happiness in the end - too Mary Sueish for me.
Now maybe that's not the type of book for you, maybe you don't want to read a book where people follow all the rules society lays down for them. If that's the case skip this book. But it's a shame, because this is a really good book.