Before the Norman Conquest of 1066, England was ruled by Edward (now known as Edward the Confessor). Edward was related through his mother Emma to Duke William of Normandy and the Duke believed he was Edward’s heir and had a right to England’s crown upon his death. Like all the other English kings, Edward’s Earl’s were pesky and troublesome, and the most powerful of them was the Earl of Wessex. Godwin had plenty of sons, two of whom caused quite a bit of mischief of their own, but the son who inherited the earldom was Harold – and that is who this book is about.
Harold loved Edith Swan-Neck, a woman who was *beneath* his station and he could not wed her in the eyes of the church, but they were handfasted and lived as man and wife. The English earls wanted none of Duke William upon Edward’s death, so they elected Harold as king and thus begin the events leading up to the Norman Conquest. That’s a very basic rundown and of course there’s a whole lot more to it than that but you know what I always say – read it for yourself.
This book is written from the point of view of several characters, Harold and Edith’s being the main ones, along with Edward and William and a few others. I’m not terribly fond of first person narratives, although Godwin did handle these quite nicely and gives the reader a well-rounded look at each side of the *coin*. While I found the author’s prose very lyrical, the story telling was a bit too slow paced and in the end I just wasn’t pulled into the story as much as I’d like to be, nor did I pick up on a lot of *grand passion* between the pair. Perhaps it’s because I came into this book after having read Valerie Anand’s Gildenford as well as Helen Hollick’s fabulous Harold the King, but this one just falls short in comparison to those two. A good book, just not a great one. 3/5 stars.FTC, if you must know – I got it from the library.