Men’s ambition and a woman with drive!

 ‘Before now, women have always seen the world through the light of men’s ambitions. But, though this may shape the physical space they move within, they may not play by the rules of what women are perceived to be able to offer. Aethelflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great and intricately connected to many Anglo-Saxon noble houses, is in this mould. And Annie Whitehead takes you right there. World-building is a key element of the historical novel and this is one of Ms Whitehead’s major talents. If you are curious as to how a modern woman would make her way in the Anglo-Saxon world, ‘To Be A Queen’ is the winter read for you!’

Modern woman changes direction of Medieval Christendom

Here is my review of Katherina Fortitude by Margaret Skea, posted today on Goodreads and Amazon.This is your bag if you like skillfully worked out fictional history!

The responsibilities of creating fictional versions of real-life characters are well-documented but they are nevertheless a challenge and one which Margaret Skea seems to relish. On first acquaintance, two things strike me about the eponymous wife of Martin Luther in ‘Katharina Fortitude’. One is her courage. It must have been courageous to set oneself against the forces of Christendom at the time when she did so, even to the extent of being haunted through pregnancy with the menace of her unborn child being Devil’s spawn. Even the tradesmen are cautious in their dealings with her although they are set to profit hugely from the Luthers’ growing list of dinner guests. The other feature of Katharina that strikes me is her modernity. She deals with things which we do not – plague, damnation, the opinions of a world-changing husband etc – but she maintains her capacity for independent thought and action throughout. Her way of handling challenges may be of her times but her intention is timeless and universal. And all this in a world created so skillfully by Margaret Skea – with such lightness of touch. The life and times of Katharina are vivid and the occasional detail or contemporaneous word – such as ‘tailclout’ or ‘stube’ – keeps the reader safely anchored there. I read this as a standalone, but am very much drawn now to seek out the first in the series.