by Sarah Bower
Category: Romance, Sagas & Historical / General
Publisher: Snowbooks Ltd
Publication date: 2 January 2006
Number of pages: 520
It is January 1067. Charismatic bishop Odo of Bayeux decides to commission a wall hanging, on a scale never seen before, to celebrate his role in the conquest of Britain by his brother, William, Duke of Normandy. What he cannot anticipate is how utterly this will change his life - even more than the invasion itself. His life becomes entangled with the women who embroider his hanging, especially Gytha - handmaiden to the fallen Saxon queen and his sworn enemy. But against their intensions they fall helplessly in love; in doing so Odo comes into conflict with his king and his God and Gytha with Odo's enemies, who mistrust her hold over such a powerful man. Friends and family become enemies, enemies become lovers; nothing in life or in the hanging is what it seems. "The Needle in the Blood" - a powerful tale of sex, lies and embroidery.
What the papers say:
'A huge accomplishment...so vivid, intriguing and masterfully portrayed... as rich and remarkable as the embroidery it describes. Bower is a talented writer; her novel is highly recommended.' Susan Fletcher, winner of the 2004 Whitbread First Novel award for 'Eve Green'. 'A story of love, war and the tangled truths of Britain's birth, crafted with as much care and skill as the famous tapestry at its heart.'Sarah Bryant, author of 'The Other Eden' and 'Sand Daughter' 'A fascinating insight into the making of the Bayeux Tapestry and the many mysteries stitched into this famous embroidery.' Dr. Carola M. Hicks, author of 'The Bayeux Tapestry: The Life of a Masterpiece 'A thoroughly enjoyable and illuminating historical novel which brings the period to life. The Bayeux tapestry will never look the same again.' Patricia Duncker, author of 'Hallucinating Foucault' "First, before I write anything else, I want to tell you just how good this book is. I don't want to be coy about it; I don't want to prevaricate. I just want to say, honestly: measured on a scale of books that are good and books that are ok and books that suck, this book is mind-bogglingly good. I mean, I liked it. I mean, I loved it. I mean, I was so filled up with the pure joy of reading it, that I forgot that I'm ever a stickler or a critic or a cynic. I forgot that medieval historical 'romance' makes me twitchy and that the merest whiff of 'womens' fiction' gives me hives. her prose is honestly quite startling. She has a gift for simile, and for descriptive language. .. Languid and deliberate in its telling, vivid and tangible in its world-building. Characters are similarly well-made, composite pieces and shown rather than told... Bower has an excellent grasp of the bonds of kinship, obligation, religion and biology that bind these women together Finally though, it is the way The Needle in the Blood stays true to the spirit of its endeavour that beguiles me. The way it seeks to evoke its period and the way it maintains its characters in context, the way it wears its research lightly and heavily at the same time, the way it makes no concessions to the cliches of its romance plot. The way it alienates and then reconciles its readers to the difficult themes of the eleventh century and of the Conquest. Truly, if there is such a thing as a good medieval historical romance, this is it. " Eve's Alexandria
Sarah Bower was UK editor of the Historical Novels Review for two years until the beginning of 2006 when she stepped down to make more time for her own writing. Sarah lives in rural north Suffolk with her husband, two grown up sons and two golden retrievers.
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