Good afternoon everyone! I hope you are having a good week. Today I have the chance to share this blog post from Eliza Redgold, author, academic and unashamed romantic. Her new novel Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva was released by St Martin’s Press in July. I am so excited to read this book, I have had my eye on it since I first found out about it.
Magical Mead: Godiva's Honeymoon Drink
Guest post by Eliza Redgold, Author of
Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva
My people were so happy, so pleased to see me wed. After the battle scars and losses of good men in the fight with Thurkill, they needed the festivity, the cheer. I suspected they were also comforted by our new alliance with Mercia and Leofric’s reputation and strength. They didn’t guess at the battle being fought inside me.
Drumming started on the table tops.
“A toast!” The cry came from a Mercian warrior at one the tables below.
“Was Leofric hail!”
“Was Godiva hail!”
I was Lady of Coventry. The sacred act that had been my mother’s, of offering our feast cup full to the brim, was now my task.
I hadn’t expected it to be my wedding cup.
I raised the silver goblet shimmering with amber.
Filled it to overflowing with feast mead. Spiced. Offered it to Leofric.
He grasped it. My fingers too.
For a moment he seemed to caress the cup.
Over the edge of the goblet our stares met.
“Good health! Was hail!”
Lifted it to his lips. And drank.
“To my bride,” he said when he was done.
A hint of a smile. A creased cheek.
“To Coventry,” I said.
The smile vanished.
He released the cup.
“Good health! Was hail!” The cry came again.
I lifted the goblet.
Quote from NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva
Honey was considered a ceremonial food in Lady Godiva’s time. Mead is honey wine, an alcoholic beverage made of fermented honey and water. Spices, fruits and grains are added to it according to taste and local tradition. For the Anglo-Saxons, the mead-bench was a place of feasting and celebration.
Mead was often made for special occasions, including weddings – from which we get the sweet name ‘honeymoon’. Traditionally, mead would be drunk by the wedding couple for a full month after a wedding. Imbibing plenty of mead augured well for a good marriage. Today, it still makes a delightful wedding gift.
In the novel, another version of mead drunk by Godiva is called oxymel. In her day, recipes for this secret elixir would have been closely guarded. Oxymel was a health cup made from apple cider, honey and ‘mother’ vinegar that was believed to have life giving properties. Versions of this health drink, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are still imbibed today.
Honey bees also make an appearance in NAKED. One of the most sacred old symbols is the bee and so it would have been for Lady Godiva. Ancient myths tell of goddesses who would gather nectar from apple orchards of the otherworld, and bring it to earth, bearing their wisdom. The Queen Bee, ruler of the hive, represents leadership and service for the good of all.
The bee is also a symbol of life and immortality. ‘Telling the bees’ was a traditional custom of visiting hives to talk to the bees, as one might do to plants, so that they were part of the community. So legend has it, if bees are not conversed with, they will flee the earth.
In NAKED, Godiva needed to summon up all the wisdom and courage she could. Hopefully, she tapped into the wisdom of the bees - and drinking plenty of mead and oxymel probably helped. If you’d like to taste mead yourself, visit my webpage at www.elizaredgold.com I’ve made some honey themed serving suggestions in the Book Club section and included some worldwide stockists for mead. It’s an enchanting drink. Was hail!
ELIZA REDGOLD is based upon the old, Gaelic meaning of her name, Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd. English folklore has it that if you help a fairy, you will be rewarded with red gold. She has presented academic papers on women and romance and is a contributor to the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Romance Fiction. As a non-fiction author she is co-author of Body Talk: a Power Guide for Girls and Stay-at-Home Mothers: Dialogues and Debates. She was born in Irvine, Scotland on Marymass Day and currently lives in Australia.
We know her name. We know of her naked ride. We don’t know her true story.
We all know the legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry, covered only by her long, flowing hair. So the story goes, she begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. Lord Leofric demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town. There are various endings to Godiva’s ride, that all the people of Coventry closed their doors and refused to look upon their liege lady (except for ‘peeping Tom’) and that her husband, in remorse, lifted the tax.
Naked is an original version of Godiva’s tale with a twist that may be closer to the truth: by the end of his life Leofric had fallen deeply in love with Lady Godiva. A tale of legendary courage and extraordinary passion, Naked brings an epic story new voice.
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Tour Wide Giveaway!!
Please note, this giveaway is a HFVBT tour wide giveaway - I am not in charge of the rules or selection of winners. To enter to win a copy of Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva or a $50 Amazon Gift Card, please enter via the GLEAM form below. Three winners will be chosen.
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