The Forever Queen Book Chat

Hello Everyone and welcome to the blog chat for The Forever Queen. We have a lot of deep and interesting questions to think about this evening and we will be joined by the one and only Helen Hollick. I am so excited and pleased to host this chat here on my blog tonight and to have her here to participate as well.

This is my first blog chat in this format so please bear with me. I am going to do this one exactly like Amy @ Passages to the Past held her last one. Basically I will list a question and you will all comment and discuss in the comments section of the blog post. After awhile or when the topic has been exhausted I will edit the post and add another question at which time you will need to refresh you page to see the new questions.

I hope you enjoy the chat and have a lot of fun. I am so pleased to have you all here.

Questions:

1. August 1003. Emma has spent a while at Wilton Nunnery, mentally and physically exhausted after being ill and witnessing the horrors at Oxford. She has found peace at Wilton, but is summoned because someone has come to fetch her back to Court. She is astonished to discover that Athelstan, Æthelred’s eldest son, is outside – even more astonished to be accused of collusion with the Reeve of Exeter who opened the gates to Viking raiders, the town subsequently being ravaged. What did you think about her reaction?

2. When Emma first arrived in England she was a shy, lonely and somewhat frightened young girl. When do you think she started standing up for herself? What was it that gave her the courage to do so?

3. Compare the men in this story. Æthelred is weak and incompetent. His son Athelstan apparently despises Emma; Edmund tries his best to do what is right and Cnut has a point to prove to himself and others. Emma loathes Æthelred, is afraid of Athelstan, admires Edmund and learns to love Cnut. Where her feelings for these four men correct? Which of them did you prefer – and why.

4. Emma’s antipathy towards her eldest son, Edward, yet her over-protective doting on Harthacnut were almost opposite feelings. Why did she so loathe one, but was almost obsessed with the other? Because of the circumstances of their births perhaps – or for her own position and security? Could you sympathise with her reaction to the two young men as they grew, or do you disapprove of her attitude?

5. What kind of woman do you think Emma would have been if she lived in modern times?

6. One of the big plot points that people react to is right at the beginning: Emma, at thirteen years old, being sent from her home to marry Æthelred. However, this was common practice and betrothals in some countries around the world still take place at such a young age. Discuss how this significant event in Emma’s life shaped who she eventually—and had to—become.

7. Another amazing scene is when Emma and her infant son are trapped and Emma has to climb a cliff to reach safety from the rising tide. This story actually happened, but with Helen Hollick’s own grandmother! Think of the women in your own families—how have they inspired you?

139 comments:

  1. I am so excited everyone can be here tonight. Let's get started!!!

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  2. I am here! Maybe you could turn off word verification for a bit?

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  3. I took care of it. Thanks for the suggestion, I had forgotten it was on.

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  4. Hi Dolleygurl! Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I'm here too.
    I think she was horrified that she could do nothing to stop it. That she lost her only friend at the time. That no one would listen to her when she wanted to stop.
    I also think that perhaps she knew that had she stopped she might have been killed

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  6. I think her reaction to being pulled out of the nunnery was true to the character. She had been there quite some time and even though ladies had it a bit differently from the actual nuns in that time nothing would have prepared her for court life. Add in the Vikings and I would have ran back to my nunnery.

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  7. So...did either of you read the book? Did you enjoy it?

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  8. Hi Pricilla. Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. I will try to pop in and out. I cannot read white on black without having dangerous results.

    I wanted to thank you for hosting this chat and say a huge thank you to author Helen Hollick for continually providing brilliant books to her readers.

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  10. I'm happy to be here. I enjoyed the last book chat. I'll stay as long as I can.

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  11. I did enjoy the book I am a big historical fiction buff and I studied history in school so I like to see all the things the authors take from real history and make them so much more exciting.

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  12. Thanks for stopping in Jennifer! I totally understand!

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  13. I am here also and will be popping in and out.

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  14. I didn't know that Pam! You are an onion! (mean that is a good way :)

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  15. Hi Terra57! thanks for stopping in!

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  16. Hello everyone - I'm here too, thank you for joining us, and a very _big_ thank you to Monica for playing host.

    I'm really looking forward to your comments. Please don't be shy about saying anything, even if you think I might not approve. ALL comments are welcome, I would far rather read honest opinions!

    I think women had it very tough in the past - knowing that they would either be married off or sent to a nunnery.

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  17. YAY! I am so happy you are here Helen and honored to host this chat! I am so excited! :)

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  18. Helen,

    I think a lot that were forced to marry would have preferred a nunnery! You chose and excellent time period and I do believe it rang true to showing how women were treated.

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  19. I think it probably sucked to be an royal woman at that particular time.

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  20. So often the female characters in books stoically accept their fates as game pieces - but I wonder how they really felt.

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  21. Hi Helen! Thank you for such a delicious book and for your honest answers to my interview questions.

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  22. And how did they bear it?

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  23. Hello everyone, I'm here - of all the evening for my computer to decide to have a hissy fit!!! grrr. Give me a moment to catch up on reading the comments! :-)

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  24. I agree with what a lot of you are saying, I can't even pretend I would have wanted to be a women in this time period. I think women in that time period are stronger than women today because they had to play the game in an entirely different way.

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  25. I would have been locked in a convent at about age 9.

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  26. I just posted question 2. I will post one about every 17 minutes or when there is a lull. Please refresh your window to see it!

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  27. Emma was so amazing - the ability to survive and then create her own fate -how often did that happen for women?

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  28. I think that it was very hard to be a woman at that time - and they didn't have many options that they could do to really change their lives if they were not in a great situation.

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  29. I think she started standing up for herself when she realized that Aethelred was so completely useless and was going to continue to take his rage out on her.

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  30. I agree Monica that women had to be stronger during this time and I cringe when I think of what I would have done being in those shoes.

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  31. Phew - sorry folks, my computer crashed. (Totally understand about your eyes Jennifer!)

    I suppose given that most women were married off to men they did not know, who were often older - and that childbirth killed a lot of women, maybe a nunnery was a better option?

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  32. I agree with you Pricilla. I think she started standing up for herself when she realized she needed to make a change or she would be dead sooner rather than later.

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  33. The need to survive and make her life bearable - in answer to question 2. Either she stood up for herself or she would be consumed by the court.

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  34. Monica, I don't really think it was one certain thing that gave her courage. I think she was way beyond her time in mental capabilities and time after time of being treated in a way that was unbecoming she began to well let's say grow a set :D

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  35. They didn't have a choice. YOu can't think of it with today's mindsets. They were basically chattel. It's hard to imagine but women had so few rights in those days.

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  36. I was surprised to learn how totally awful a king Aethelred was.

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  37. I think it was after the death of her beloved bodyguard and only friend that she found herself in a situtation where it's either fight for ones self or be abused.

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  38. I agree with that also Pam. I believe there is always a point though at which the mind makes the active decision to move forward, but the gradual worsening of her situation definitely is what brought on the uh...courage :)

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  39. Pricilla, I totally agree. Look at women in the middle east and how they bear their fates today. We often look at the world - and history - through our own contemporary eyes.

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  40. Karen that is totally true. I was just thinking had I been in Emma's position I would have killed him, but really if I were in her shoes, in her time period, I wouldn't have...today however....who knows.

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  41. when pushed into a corner, do you cower there or fight? Most women, as we have all said, didn't have much of a choice - but Emma soon realised she was _queen_ which made a big difference don't you think?

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  42. Karen - true. I can have no understanding because I was not brought up in a culture where it is acceptable to treat women that way. I find it abhorrent because I was taught differently. I came of age in a time of doors opening for women with a husband who wished I could work and make a fortune so he could retire.

    heh

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  43. Helen, how does Emma compare (aside from the marriage to two kings) to Alfred's daughter?

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  44. Karen, I found that I was looking at Emma's world through my mindset of today and wasn't really giving her the proper due to her situtations. Being as privilaged as we are today how can we honesty see though eyes of someone who is so far beyond their years.

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  45. Helen - I think Emma hung onto the idea of being Queen like it was a lifebuoy. It became her sole identity and her focus was to keep that throne for her child

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  46. I think that every person has their breaking point, and emma just had finally had enough and just finally found her inner courage to do something about it. i think it also really has to do with growing up and finding who you are.

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  47. Women such as Emma learned to work within their culture and systems - certainly hers was a dramatic story but other women surely found paths to limited power in that time - such as abbesses.

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  48. Pricilla - yes I agree. But did the power eventually overtake her I wonder (there'll be more about her in I am the Chosen King published next March)

    Karen - Alfred's daughter was another remarkable women - she even led the army into war against the Vikings I believe!

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  49. How can Emma be in I am the Chosen King when she died in Harald?

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  50. Helen, I am much looking forward to the next chapter. I can't answer that as I didn't know anything about Emma 'til I read your glorious book. Aethelred I remember from my history classes but not Emma. Isn't that a fine state of affairs?

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  51. I posted question 3. Please get to it when you are ready :) Refresh your browser to see it!

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  52. Karen - I am the Chosen King is the US edition of Harold the King - the same book duifferent title.

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  53. What comes out inthe spring (reading Harald now)

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  54. I think any women in her right mind would have wanted to kill Athelred. I'm just surprised his mother didn't do the deed herself but then that would have given her no one two rule through. Athelstan was just picked on by Athelred far too much but that seems to be what they did then and Edmund would have made an excellent King given more time. As for Cnut, he lived both sides of the coin and found you could attract more flies with honey.

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  55. Helen: As the author to the book I am curious to know your answer to question 3.

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  56. Question 3 - loved Cnute! And Godwine

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  57. Katen - the US edition of Harold the King comes out in the US in March 2011 - but it is to be called I Am The Chosen King (not Harold the King)

    Pricilla - I didn't know anything about Emma until I strated writing about King Harold (I wrote Harold's story first, you see - back in 2000!

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  58. I really like Edmund and actually grew to like Aethelstan. I really with Edmund had been around longer - I think he could have really helped Emma. I do think that her feelings for them were correct.

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  59. Ah had to walk the hound! I am back now sorry for that. I cannot wait for I Am the Chosen King! It is a great time period not one I spent a lot of time on when I got my PhD but a fair amount :D

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  60. I still wonder if Athelred would have been a better King and person if he hadn't had been involved with the killing of his brother.

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  61. Somehow I got ahold of a copy of Harald (through AMazon) :)

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  62. I wanted to strangle Aethelred through the pages. Aethelstan felt threatened by the possibility of new brothers; I don't think his father did right by him but seriously, who DID Aethelred do right by? Edmund was a peacemaker within his family and tried to do what was best for England but again, Aethelred screwed him over too.
    Cnute had something to prove - to his father and his brother. Did Emma love him or did she need him? I'm not so sure. He did her no favors with what'shername in the north -Eglifufu or whatever. These names drive me crazy

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  63. I also liked Edmund and Athelstan - they are two characters I would happily have altered history for if I could.

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  64. I grew to like Athelstan, I think he could have turned out better if his father wasn't such a bad guy. Hated him. Anyway...I liked Cnut, if only for the fact that I loved Emma and he showed her a brief period of happiness. I loved him for that.

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  65. Pricilla - the nanmes drove me crazy too! LOL

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  66. I really think that Emma more needed Cnut at the time, in order to keep her queendom, but I think that she certainly grew to like him as time went on.

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  67. I posted question 4. Please refresh your window to see it! :)

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  68. Cnut seemed more real. He showed emotions that the others didn't and when his daughter drowned I nearly wept with him. I loved him more for his showing of humanity.

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  69. I felt sorry for Athelstan - all he wanted was to be King and do his duty to the people of England - but circumstances blocked him (and it must have been very hard for him to accept his father taking a new wife)
    Atheklstan was a man of honour though - as was Edmund

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  70. As to question 4, who wouldn't feel some loathing to having a constant reminder of rape and abuse. I think that had something to do with her love hate relationships with her sons.

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  71. I certainly think Emma lacked feeling for Edward because of how he was conceived and because of everything that happened with his father. And honestly, I really don't blame her. I think her feelings for Harthacnut may have been compensation for her lack of feeling for her other sons - but I really think he wasn't that great to her either.

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  72. Terra57 - there is a statue of the little girl in Bosham church and a lovely dedication to her.
    Sadly vandals broke in a few years back and smashed it - but it has now been carefully mended

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  73. Edward had nothing to do with HOW he was conceived but Emma sure seemed to blame him. In fact she just didn't seem to be very motherly at all - I suppose another factor of the times.

    She used Edward when she needed him but all but ignored him and his desires the rest of the time.
    Harthacnut was a bully. Pure and simple. It will be interesting to see if he grows out of it.

    Curious that they both so resemble their fathers with so little of Emma in them.

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  74. On a historical note - we don't know why Emma loathed Edward (or Aethelred come to that) We DO know that Edward disliked his mother though - my job as an author was to try and think of logical reason why this was. The fact that Edward was so like his father (basically incompetent) seemed a good starting point. It is also a fact that his birth was long and difficult - if his conceiving had also been bad.....
    (by the way sorry for typing errors - its nearly 1 a.m. here in London! I'm flagging a bit!

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  75. History is such a challenge. It is written by the victors and so much is lost; purposely or not.

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  76. I'm flagging and it's only 6PM my time :0

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  77. I posted the next question. Please refresh you windows to see.

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  78. and it is probable that Emma had very little love from her own mother....

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  79. Well, she certainly wouldn't have gotten married at 13!
    I suspect given her status in life she would be jetsetting to Monte Carlo and appearing in tabloids for hopefully no more that premieres and such

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  80. I think I would have little love for her as well. She seemed so cold and distant the little bit that we saw of her. But, as we had discussed it was a different time so...maybe that was the norm then.

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  81. Given Emma's courage and strength during the time period, if that was projected forward to an Emma of today I think she would be a world leader and one to be reckoned with.

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  82. I think Emma would have been a world traveler. Maybe a photo journalist or something like that. She would have been a highly regarded one in her field as well. That is what I would have pictured and maybe even wanted for her.

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  83. I think she would be a world figure, a policy maker, in her own right.

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  84. I wonder about the men. How would they be if they were in modern times? What do you all think?

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  85. I enjoyed the insight as to perhaps why her mother was not close to Emma - knowing she would give up her daughter and probably never see her again.

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  86. I see a modern Emma as a high powered execitive business woman - I don't think she would have allowed the banks to bankrupt the world LOL :-)

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  87. Athelred wouldn't have a chance in today's society. They would chew him up and spit him out for the sniveling coward that he was.

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  88. I think they would be pretty much the same - Aethelred overbearing and obnoxious, bad decision maker, running his company into bankruptcy; Cnut, an opportunistic, ruthless and ultimately successful CEO. Edward Iron hand a race car driver - dying young on the track.

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  89. I agree with you there. I wonder about Cnut, he is always out to prove himself, maybe he would have been a regular man just striving for success like everyone else.

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  90. The men? Yes..... they were brought up to believe fighting was an honourable thing: war etc was acceoted. (was that, perhaps, why Emma hated Aethelred & Edward? Because they were not prepared to fight?)

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  91. Personalities are intrinsic. Aethelred was never gonna be "ready" for anything....

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  92. That is an interesting way to look at it Helen. Back then women expected a man to fight and then they did not fit the status quo of her time, she rejected that. Very possibly.

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  93. Am I the only one who has a cautious dislike of Harold? I haven't read anything of his story so what information was given to us in this story seems to make me think of him as a two timer.

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  94. I posted the next question. Please refresh your window to see it!

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  95. I think for those of us that read a lot of historical fiction this was not a shocking event. Marriages, especially within the ruling classes were political arrangements. Daughters were good for making alliances and not much else.

    Emma had no say in her betrothed, no say in where she would go to live and no say even after she met Aethelred. Her brother basically sold her and didn't care...

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  96. Obviously she had to grow up way faster than the normal women. She had to learn to do and bear things at an early age and sadly with her husband she had to endure hardship at an early age as well. I think it is sort of like when your parents do something you hate you save a space in the back of your mind that says "I will never to X" She learned from her mother, her uncle, her husband all of "X"

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  97. oops, I meant to type betrothal. My computer is acting up. Must be the snow...

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  98. Sorry I forget who is the one that hooked her up...brother or uncle, need to check.

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  99. Terra57 - no Harold was NOT a two-timer, he was a VERY honourable man. The reason why he had to desert his first "common law" wife was because of politics.... but wait until you read the book.

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  100. I agree with Pricilla - early betrothal for political reasons was par for the course in its day. I think we find it more shocking in today's world.

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  101. Thanks Helen that's good to know. I try not to form opinions so easily as they can be wrong. I will be patiently waiting for Harold's book.

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  102. Helen, you are such a wonderful writer and you really make history come alive. I would love for you to do a series on historical women in all your spare time. ;)

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  103. For those of us in the US, Amazon is carrying Harold the king.

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  104. The one thing that has surprised me on this blog tour is the amount of women who are shocked at Emma marrying at 13 - I'm surprised that more people do not realise that most girls were married between 13 - 15/16 until relatively recently (still are in some countries!)

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  105. I posted the next question. Please refresh your browser.

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  106. I just wonder how Edyth could really bear it when Harold married. What happened to their children?

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  107. I have gotten more inspiration on how not to be from my family.

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  108. I was always inspired by my mother who had me at 16 and raised myself and two sisters alone until she married when I was 12. It always amazed me how she was able to do it.

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  109. I think that was such an incredible amazing story. I can't believe how strong and determined that woman had to be!

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  110. I have to wonder why more has not been written about Emma and her remarkable accomplishments. Helen, is she widely recognized in the UK?

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  111. Karen - LOL same here!
    (Edyth must have been devastated. One of her daughters married Vladimir of Kiev - not sure if it was him, or their son who became the first Tsar of Russia)

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  112. My maternal grandmother was native american and taught me many things that I would not have learned otherwise. If push came to shove I could find a way to feed and cloth myself, protect myself from harm and find my way out of the forest easily. It is something I am forever grateful for.

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  113. I've got to go.
    Thank you so much for this delightful conversation.
    Thank YOU Helen for taking the time to be here.
    I so enjoyed reading and reviewing your book on my blog.
    I'll look forward to the next installment.
    Patty
    Pricilla is my goat - she has taken over my identity and my life

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  114. That is awesome, Helen. I bet there is a good story there.

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  115. Thanks so much for stopping by Pricilla!

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  116. Sadly I took very little notice of my grandmother Emma. She was stone deaf and as a teenager I had very little time for her - how utterly stupid of me! She was, in fact, an amazing woman!

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  117. So...anyone else have any questions about the book, for Helen, for me...anything at all?

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  118. Helen, I know you have a dislike of William the invader - how do you balance your personal opinion against history when writing?

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  119. Thanks Monica for hosting this chat. It's been nice to see other opinions.

    Thanks you Helen from the bottom of my heart for helping me open my eyes to the reality of yester year. If only all of today's society could have their eyes opened we might be lucky enough to live a more peaceful and better life today.

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  120. Bye Pricilla - thanks for being here.
    You may be interested to know that while editing Forever Queen, it was suggested that I take out the cliff scene as it "added nothing to the story".....

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  121. I have to sign out also as I am getting google eyed. Morning comes far to quickly when one wants to sleep.

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  122. Bye Terra, thanks for stopping by!

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  123. I want to read the unedited version of The Forever Queen

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  124. Karen - with difficulty LOL! I've been putting off writing a follow up to Harold because I couldn't face writing about William again - I'll manage it though!

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  125. I know you will! I think you have done a fine job with William in Harold so I look forward to reading about the rebellion.

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  126. Kudos for you for staying up and chatting with us, Helen. Thank you! Thank you, Monica, for hosting this chat and giving us all a chance to chat with Helen - it has been fun!

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  127. I am always in suspense for your books Helen! :) It looks like everyone is signing off, it is late, and it's Monday. I wish everyone pleasant dreams and feel free to stay until nine or continue chatting about the book here over the next week. I would love to have you! It was an honor to have Helen here and to host the chat! I will be around if anyone else has a comment or concern!

    Thanks for coming by!

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  128. Thank you so much Helen for staying up to chat with us!

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  129. Goodnight Terra - thank you!
    Karen, I think Forever Queen is probably the better version - I wrote Hollow Crown a long while ago and it was not well edited. On the other habd it has 40,000 words more in the story!

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  130. On the contrary Monica - thank YOU for having me here and for hosting what turned out to be a fantastic evening (er... early morning LOL)

    Thank you everyonw who joined in - and especially, thank you for your enthusiasm and support, I do, most sincerely appreciate it.

    Well, I'm off to my bed - almost 2 a.m. !
    Goodnight!
    xx

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  131. Great read! I wish you could follow up to this topic

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