Saturday, August 21, 2010


The last post was so easy-peasy. This time you'll have to try harder! This is an excerpt from a book I recently reviewed, An Involuntary King by Nan Hawthorne, which is based on a fictitious kingdom on eighth century England's eastern coast. Made up though this kingdom be, as well as the main characters, you do bump into some real historical figures in some intriguing historical locations. So this conversation between a fleeing queen (rescued by a dark and stormy knight - had to get that phrase in) and a monk named Willihad will give you a location clue. So, where is she?

"So I knew I must flee, to save myself and my children. I could see no other way than to let the mercenary lord help me. I could not simply walk out the gates of the stronghold."

"My lady, I credit that, but what concerns me is what you may have implied to the man in exchange."

Josephine turned hot eyes on the monk. "Forgive me, brother, but I made it quite clear that if he thought that my accepting his succor meant he could have me, he should withdraw his offer. Further, I told him that once we arrived wherever he would take me I would not live with him, not in any fashion." She glared, but something made her stop and think. "Oh," she said contritely. "I see. 'Wherever he would take me'."

Willihad' s eyes were warm with understanding. "That is why, my daughter, I wanted to speak with you. I feared you did not realize your own complicity in the elopement."

"It is not an elopement!"

"My lady, methinks you are the only person who knows that."

Josephine sat and thought about what he was saying. Her heart felt torn between what she believed, what she wanted to believe, and what the reality of her situation was.

"I suggest we pray together on this. Shall we do so at the shrine?"

"St. Cuthbert's shrine? Indeed, I should very much like that. I've not had time yet to visit it."

They gathered up the twins and made their way to the shrine of the holy man.  The Bishop and the boys were at the shrine as well.

"Mama, Cutberp!" Tavish cried.

"I was reading some of my verse about the lives of the saints, daughter. They were keen to see the place where one of them, a most holy saint, is buried."

Peter glanced at his mother. "Mama, when they took him out of his tomb he wasn't all rotted!"

The adults laughed softly. "Will you pray at the shrine with us, my boys?" Willihad asked.

Click comment below for your answer. No multiple choice this time. Told you it would be harder...

(There's an interview with Nan Hawthorne posted Wednesday August 18 2010 on this Blog, about how the author copes with blindness in her writing and book reviewing.)


Jen Black said...

Well, Cuthbert had many shrines at different places, some rather temporary, but why not start with the final resting place? Durham Cathedral?

lordteaspoon said...

Ha. Told you it was hard... nice try Jen. Close....

Nan Hawthorne said...

I hoped I would get here before anyone else! I wanted to explain the name "Josephine". I am painfully aware that is not an Anglo Saxon name. The novel was based on a series of letters and stories which you can find at written by my friend Laura and me when we were between 11 and 16 - in the 1960s... put your calculator away, right now!

We chose the names then long before I moved "The Story" to the late 800s. The king is named Lawrence, after Mr. of Arabia, their son, Peter, also after him, or rather the actor who played him, with whom we were both madly in love, and neither she nor I recall where she got Josephine. I could have changed the names when I wrote the novel.. but it is as much or more a tribute to the characters as a creation unto itself. If you honor that, you accept the names.

Now, a hint.. there are three actual people mentioned in the excerpt.
Where at least one of them is should tell you where they all are.

Does she tell the dark and stormy you know what to take a hike? Does she return to her home and is her husbamd there waiting for her? What other old love will come along and help her, and will she kick him to the curb too? Read the book! The print copy is on, the ebook on

Nan Hawthorne, bursting with gratitude for Alistair and all he does

Carla said...

St Cuthbert's shrine, and the book is set before 793 and the "wrath of the Northmen", so - Lindisfarne.

Jen Black said...

That the piece mentions the bones were discovered uncorrupted should have made it Durham, but if not, then how about Lindisfarne?
(Or Melrose? Or Ripon? They even took him to Dumfriesshire!)
Or better yet, I'll let someone else get the correct answer

Nan Hawthorne said...

Lindisfarne it is.

Cynewulf was Bishop.

This about the time the King of Northumbria sent Eillibad to help Carolus Magnus set up an educational system for noblemen's sons.

When they dug up Cutgbert his body was intact.

And there was no Críslicland except in my heart and mind.

Nan hawthorne

lordteaspoon said...

Well this has been a wonderful education and is still open to any comments and observations, of course. As for me, I have an ancient LP record by the folk band Lindisfarne, incl "The Fog On The Tyne Is All Mine".