Hello, I am G.M. Baker and I am serializing my historical novel, The Wistful and the Good and its accompanying commentaries in this newsletter. You can get caught up with both the novel and the commentaries using the index page on my website.
Don’t want to wait for the serial? You can buy the full novel any of these places: https://books2read.com/u/mqEKEe.
Many historical novels include an historical note in which the author gives a little of the historical background of the story and attempts to exculpate themselves from the ways in which they have departed from the historical record. My commentaries on The Wistful and the Good take the concept of the historical note and expand upon it.
Part of the attraction of the historical note is simply that most readers of historical fiction are also interested in history. But part of the attraction, and perhaps the main reason that historical notes exist, is the inevitable tension between history and the dramatic needs of a novel, between fact and fiction. This tensions fascinates me, and the commentaries on the novel allow me to explore it in depth.
One of the great questions in historical fiction is whether or not the author is obliged to get the history right. My answer to that is that the author is under no obligation to tell the truth about history, but they are under an absolute obligation not to lie about it. To explore that contradiction, and its implications, follow along with me in the novel and the commentaries.
Or, if you are a normal person and just want to read the novel for its own sake, that’s fine too. Here’s the blub:
In the year 793, a great Viking raid devastated the rich monastery of Lindisfarne, announcing the opening of the Viking age. In a small coastal village a few miles south of Lindisfarne, Elswyth, the daughter of a simple thegn and a slave, is preparing to marry a nobleman, Drefan of Bamburgh, a match that will secure her family’s fortunes.
But Elswyth’s family has been trading with a Norse clan since before she was born and when Leif, the son of the Norse jarl, arrives seeking to raise a ransom for his kidnapped father by selling Christian holy books, Elswyth is charged with keeping the peace between Drefan and Leif. On its own this would be difficult enough, but it becomes so much harder when Elswyth finds herself starting to fall for Leif.
If Elswyth follows her heart, or fails to allay Drefan’s growing suspicions, bloodshed and slavery are certain to follow.
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