Thursday, February 7, 2013


Today I have the great pleasure of having Patricia Bracewell, author of SHADOW ON THE CROWN, here on EBJ- History Salon.

What a gorgeous cover!!

“Who could have known that the court of Aethelred the Unready was as full of intrigue, passion, and danger as anything in Tudor times?  A well-wrought journey back to those little known times, this novel entertains while it educates.” Margaret George

Considering that this blog is mostly all about historical women of substance, and that you my beautiful friends, love reading about these-  I asked Patricia to compare Emma to a woman of substance in these times?

Here's what she had to say...

Thank you, Lucy, for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts about Emma of Normandy, the heroine of my novel Shadow on the Crown.

Emma was the daughter of Duke Richard I of Normandy and the sister of his successor, Richard II. In 1002 she was sent to England as part of an alliance that was struck between her brother and the English king, Æthelred II. We know this because at least one chronicler in England thought the event was significant enough to make a note of it in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:

Then, in the same Lent, came the Lady Emma, Richard’s daughter, to this land.

What else do we know about that marriage and the next several years of Emma’s life, the time period covered by my book? Very little.  Even Emma’s age on her wedding day is a guess; historians speculate that she may have been as young as twelve or as old as twenty. Æthelred, though, was certainly a great deal older. He had been on the throne for twenty-four years, from the age of about ten, and he had seven sons and four daughters from his first marriage. His kingdom was under constant attack from Viking raiders, so the atmosphere at his court must have been tense and probably at times hostile. Given just those bits of information, it is easy to imagine that Emma’s first years in England might have been more than a little trying!

So how does an author go about creating a character when so few facts are available to draw from?

In imagining the character of Emma, I focused first on what I could discover about her entire career. Her reputation – acquired over her lifetime and the millennium that followed, is of a strong, determined woman. Why? Perhaps it’s because she was a survivor. Six kings of England reigned – and died – during Emma’s lifetime. During two of those reigns she was driven into exile, and both times she returned to flourish and prosper. When she died, at nearly seventy years old, she was buried in honored state among princes and kings.

So Emma was a power at court for about forty years, and she must have been an intelligent and persuasive advisor to several kings. I think she must have been a good negotiator, too, adept at dealing with powerful men – not unlike, for example, Hillary Clinton – using the force of words to sway opinion. Emma of Normandy clearly was a woman who understood the power of words. When she was in her fifties she commissioned a book that reported historical events in the way that Emma wanted them remembered. This was pretty impressive eleventh century p.r.!

But I was writing a story about a much younger Emma – about an inexperienced bride whose marriage was arranged very quickly and who would have had only a short time to prepare herself for whatever difficulties she would face in her new home. I chose to make her fifteen years old, but even as I settled on that number, I recognized that a daughter of an eleventh century Norman duke would have been far more mature at fifteen than most girls today. When I thought of that Emma, I couldn’t quite get the ghost of the young Diana Spencer out of my head – beautiful, compassionate, much loved by her people, but not particularly happy in her marriage.

So my novel is not about the heroine of a fairy tale romance. It’s about a bride who is the pawn in a political alliance forged by two ruthless and powerful rulers. That alliance and the events that followed would shape a dutiful young woman into a queen and, beyond that, into a woman who could run with the wolves.

PATRICIA BRACEWELL grew up in California where she taught literature and composition before embarking upon her writing career. She has always been fascinated by English history and holds an MA in English literature.  Her historical research has taken her to Britain, France and Denmark. She has two grown sons and lives with her husband in Oakland, California.


To Enter to Win a Copy of this book:

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Open to US and Canada
Good Luck!!!



Lara Newell said...

What a great guest post! I have really been looking forward to reading this one (I know next to nothing about Emma!).

I"m a GFC follower

lafra86 at gmail dot com

Lara Newell said...

I posted on Google+

TIffany said...

This looks like a great winter read - thanks for the giveaway!


I am a blog follower!

Denise said...

Emma sounds like a wonderfully clever and complex woman and queen, I'm looking forward to learning more about her, and I've been eagerly awaiting the release of "Shawow on the Crown!


Linda said...

two or three years ago I read a novel about Emma and have been fascinated by her ever since. I'd love to read about her from another author's perspective. Thanks for the giveaway.

brokenteepee said...

I follow on GFC

I tweeted:



Thank you

Unknown said...

Sounds like a great read! Thanks for the chance. I am a follower. aitmama {{at}} gmail {{tod}} com

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Carrie said...

Sounds like a fabulous story! Thanks for the giveaway

GFC follower - Carrie

Christina / Book Addict said...

I'm definitely interested in this book! It sounds like one I'd enjoy. Thanks for the giveaway. GFC follower: chris327

Meg @ A Bookish Affair said...

I think it's so interesting to see how little we actually know about some historical figures like Aethelred, who was a pretty famous king, and by extension, his wife and their family. I wonder why no one documented more information?

- GFC follower

Sandra K321 said...

Thank you for the author's insight. I follow you with GFC as Sandra K321.

Unknown said...

Can't wait to read this!

I am a GHC follower

jeninquincy at gmail

Carolyn said...

Great post! Thanks for the chance to win a copy. I follow on gfc.
rexmoy (at) gmail (dot) com

Unknown said...

Thanks for the giveaway!
GFC follower

Nisa Howe said...

Would rally like to rad this one, is sounds simply fabulous

DeNisa How said...

okay sorry about the spelling I meant I would really like to read this one...

DeNisa How said...

I did forget to leave my e-mail addy it is Nisa Howe