Patty's Reviews > The Needle in the Blood

The Needle in the Blood by Sarah Bower
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's review
Mar 08, 2012

really liked it
Read from March 08 to 11, 2012

There is nothing like a historical re-imagining in the hands of a talented author. In The Needle in the Blood Sarah Bower gives the reader her imagination's take on the creation of what has come to be called the Bayeux Tapestry. It's not a true tapestry as it is not woven but embroidered but it is a magnificent piece of art.

In this tale Bishop Odo, also known as the Earl of Kent is William the Conqueror's half brother (he did exist and he was William's half brother in fact). After the Battle of Hastings Odo decides to commemorate the battle and William's victory with an artistic rendering. He calls upon his sister Agatha, a nun with some talent to gather the greatest embroiderers to mimic a hanging he has seen. (In reality it is not completely known how the Bayeux Tapestry came to be or who made it.)

One of the women that Agatha recruits, Gytha was in the household of King Harold's common law wife, Edith and was present when William and Odo rode into Winchester in triumph. Gytha watched as Edith was sent away with nothing and she saw Odo's arrogance. She lost everything and was forced into prostitution to survive. It was only her talent with a needle and Agatha searching her out that saves her but her hatred for Odo is what makes her take the job.

But there is a fine line between hate and love and Odo and Gytha end up falling in love in spite of his being a bishop. The story that follows shows their love and how it distracts Odo from worshiping William.

While the bulk of this book was pure imagination it was a fascinating read. I only got bored during the long, wordy sex scenes when Odo and Gytha first start their relationship. I know! One would think these would be, well, exciting but they just weren't. Too much talking, a bit too much vulgarity of all things and not enough of a scene that read true. But beyond that I found myself involved in a story that I did truly enjoy. (I was reading an advanced copy and this might have been changed for the final version. I have no idea....)

The details of the how the tapestry came into being from the drawings to its being pieced together was very fascinating. Ms. Bower's chosen explanations for various scenes that appear in the real tapestry have me now wanting to research further and find a book on the piece. THAT to me is a good book.

So pick up The Needle in the Blood for a good love story (when they are out of bed), a wonderful lesson on embroidery prior to machines and post Battle of Hastings England.

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