Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Silken Rose by Carol McGrath. Today, I welcome Carol to the blog to talk about inspiration. But first, here is some bookish information about The Silken Rose, the first book in the Rose Trilogy.
Author : Carol McGrath
Title : The Silken Rose
Series : The Rose Trilogy #1
Pages : 355
Publisher : Accent Press
Publication date : April 2, 2020
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
1236. Beautiful Ailenor of Provence, cultured and intelligent, is only thirteen when she marries Henry III. Aware of the desperate importance of providing heirs to secure the throne from those who would snatch it away, she is ruthless in her dealings with Henry’s barons. As conflict escalates between them, Ailenor’s shrewd and clever Savoyard uncles come to support her but her growing political power is threatened when Henry’s half-siblings also arrive at court.
Henry and Ailenor become embroiled in an unpopular war to protect Gascony, last English territory on the continent, sparking conflict with warrior knight, Simon de Montfort, the King’s seneschal. Ailenor, desperate to protect Gascony for her son, strives to treat with France and bring peace to Gascony.
Caught in a web of treachery and deceit, ‘she-wolf’ Ailenor’s courage is tested to the limit. Can she find the strength to control her destiny and protect her all that she holds dear?
| GUEST POST |
Hello, and thank you for hosting me, Eva. I am Carol McGrath, author of Medieval and Tudor Historical Fiction. So far I have four published novels. The fifth, my new novel The Silken Rose will be published by Headline on April 2nd as an e book and on July 23rd as a paperback. This book is the first of three novels in a new Trilogy about medieval she wolf queens.
These queens lived during the magnificent thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. They are in chronological order: Ailenor of Provence, Eleanor of Castile and Isabella of France. All three wielded influence and power at a time when women were considered inferior to men mentally and physically. They were disliked by many nobles of the era for different reasons. Ailenor of Provence, married to Henry III was accused of nepotism. Eleanor of Castile was guilty of greed and amassing huge property portfolio. Isabella of France snatched the throne from her husband, Edward 11, and set up her teenage son as Edward III. She ruled as regent.
Their stories, as I write them, are intersected with female heroines drawn from the merchant class. Rosalind is an imagined character in The Silken Rose. She is an embroiderer and discoverer of secrets. The Silken Rose is told by both Ailenor and Rosalind. English embroidery was known as Opus Anglicanum and, during these magnificent gilded centuries of The High Middle Ages, was valued throughout Europe for its use of gold and silver threads and jewels. My love of medieval embroidery and tapestry inspired the secondary plot within The Silken Rose.
The inspiration for the she wolf queens’ novels initially came out of my love of telling stories, particularly about historical women whose lives are difficult to uncover. Secondly, wearing my Historian hat, I love researching too. Although I aim to tell a page-turning story with a splash of adventure and romance, I avoid contradicting the historical record. Rather, I look for the spaces in between, when nothing is recorded, where I can put my, hopefully, informed imagination into play. Queen consorts were not documented in the way their husbands are recorded within Historical sources. To investigate the queens, I had to look for precious snippets. Once I discovered their actions, it was easier to guess at their personalities. Actions, in context, often reveal more than any letters, wills or household accounts can tell about a person.
It is hard to work out appearance. There are statues of Ailenor of Provence and these, if the likeness is actually a true likeness, gave me the impression of a beautiful women with wide-set almond-shaped eyes.
She was known to be dark and tall, possibly around five feet six inches. Matthew Paris, an important chronicler during this period, wrote that she was beautiful. Ailenor is often remembered as cultured, educated, and fashionable. She wrote poetry, loved Arthurian legend and advocated the troubadour tradition loved in Provence. Ailenor was elegant and fashionable. She introduced a trend wearing little daggers on her belt and pill-box shaped headdresses or hats with shorter veils than before.
Married to doting Henry at thirteen, she was devoted to her family in Provence and to her children, especially her eldest son Lord Edward. Ailenor and Henry had three daughters and two sons. There is no evidence of Henry ever being unfaithful to her. The one serious quarrel between them occurred when his half-brothers, The Lusignans, came to England seeking his favour. She was furious and Henry banished her to Winchester. Read the novel to find out how she averted marital disaster. More tensions were to come from outside their marriage. Can she confront these and help protect the throne and her family?
Ailenor was a survivor. This little written queen was fascinating to research as was the background to the novel, the Magnificent Thirteenth Century. I aimed to create a sense of the tensions in medieval London that sweep through Rosalind’s story. A similar age to Ailenor she is portrayed as an independent woman with an embroidery workshop. It is enough to say here she hears and sees that which is hidden from others.
I hope you enjoy this novel as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Thank you again, Eva, for hosting me. Stay well everyone and stay safe through these unusual times.
[Thanks so much for stopping by, Carol. Stay safe!]
The Silken Rose is available to buy in ebook format. The UK paperback will be published in July.
| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |
Following a first degree in English and History, Carol McGrath completed an MA in Creative Writing from The Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University Belfast, followed by an MPhil in English from University of London.
The Handfasted Wife, first in a trilogy about the royal women of 1066 was shortlisted for the RoNAS in 2014. The Swan-Daughter and The Betrothed Sister complete this highly acclaimed trilogy. Mistress Cromwell, a best-selling historical novel about Elizabeth Cromwell, wife of Henry VIII’s statesman, Thomas Cromwell, is to be republished by Headline in 2020.
The Silken Rose, first in a Medieval She-Wolf Queens Trilogy, featuring Ailenor of Provence, will be published 2nd April 2020 and 23rd July 2020 as a paperback by the Headline Group.
Carol is writing Historical nonfiction as well as fiction. She speaks at events and conferences and was the co-ordinator of the Historical Novels’ Society Conference, Oxford in September 2016. She is an avid reader and reviews for the Historical Novel Society. She is a member of both the Romantic Novelists’ Association and Historical Writers Association.
Carol lives in Oxfordshire with her husband.