Ooh, ooh a review! • 21 August 2007 • The SnowBlog
Ooh, ooh a review!
Hooray for Sally Zigmund! Here is her review of THE NEEDLE IN THE BLOOD by Sarah Bower.
1066 and all that. Much of what is known about the Norman invasion of England and its aftermath is gleaned from the Bayeux Tapestry, which is, in fact, not a tapestry at all but an embroidery.
But who commissioned it, designed it and why? Who were the women who stitched it? Did they transfer their own thoughts and feelings onto the cloth? Why the references to Aesop's fables? Who are the mysterious priest and the woman called Aelfgytha who appear in an early panel? Sarah Bower has immersed herself in the scholarship but it never intrudes upon the narrative. At the heart of her novel is a passionate and highly erotic love affair. But this is no sentimental romance because it is firmly anchored in the history. The central protagonists, Norman Odo, brother of the King and the half Welsh-half Saxon Aelfgytha are so real you can touch them. All the people in this book, whether historical or not spring to life on the page. The author is brilliant at evoking all the senses, from the stench of blood on the battlefield, the taste of someone's perfumed skin, the rasp of a needle against the finger.
This is a novel of riches that makes you laugh and cry. I did both. As Aelfgytha and the other embroiderers create a world with their needles, so too the author with her pen. A memorable novel and one to savour. It deserves to win every prize going!