The Betrothed Sister: Book Three, The Daughters of Hastings Trilogy
This is the final novel in Carol McGrath’s excellent Daughters of Hastings Trilogy, and while it brings the series to an end, it also works just as well as a stand-alone work. The series as a whole examines various women in the family of King Harold in the aftermath of defeat for the Anglo-Saxon side.
The Betrothed Sister focuses on Thea (also known as Gytha), elder daughter of King Harold, as she travels into exile in Denmark after 1066 with her grandmother and loyal servants, Padar and Gudrun. Thea is a spiky and charismatic character, and McGrath’s research and storytelling are impeccable. The days of endless embroidery and sharp remarks amongst the women of the Danish court leave Thea feeling worn out and belittled and longing for a home to call her own. The possibility of escape comes in the form of a betrothal to a prince of Kiev. Thea learns the language and customs of her betrothed and eventually travels to Russia, where the life of a royal wife is much more sheltered than she is used to as the independent daughter of Harold.
Carol McGrath has written a beautiful tale of a young woman coming of age in a time of great change and upheaval. Thea, clever and bright, finds love, friendship and hope in a strange land and, despite the barriers of language, religion and culture, makes this land her home. A wonderful setting that is rarely explored in romantic fiction and a perfect read for fans of Joanna Courtney and Elizabeth Chadwick.