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The Swan Daughter

(Daughters of Hastings #2)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  633 ratings  ·  39 reviews
The Swan Daughter is a true 11th C tale of elopement and a love triangle by best-selling author of The Handfasted Wife, Carol McGrath.

A marriage made in Heaven or Hell.

1075 and Dowager Queen Edith has died. Gunnhild longs to leave Wilton Abbey but is her suitor Breton knight Count Alan of Richmond interested in her inheritance as the daughter of King Harold and Edith S
Kindle Edition, 370 pages
Published July 24th 2014 by Accent Press
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Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  633 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Jul 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
I liked this even more than the first book in the series. I would never have made it through the eleventh century for many reasons, not least of which were the smells described in this book Four nuns stood in a tight group around Christina, their sweat as stale as rotting fish, their breath foul. I found myself holding my breath as I read some of the descriptions of the foul odors throughout.

On a more serious note - I love books that make me feel as if I'm living in the time period they a
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I hated to see this book end and tried to read ever more slowly, which is hard for me. Happily when I reached the end I found the first chapter of The Betrothed Daughter, as well as a very fine collection of facts in the author's notes. This is my very favorite era to read about, for a variety of reasons, and a very favorite author as well.

Normans, and their castles, and their rationale as they tried to excuse their conquest of this land, may begin to explain what a poor husband Alan
Tom Williams
Feb 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s 1075. Eighteen-year-old Gunnhild, King Harold’s daughter, is living in a nunnery and being pressured to take her vows. She has no wish to be a nun: she is a princess and would wed a knight and have the life a princess should have. So when Count Alan offers to elope with her, she accepts. But does he love her, or does he just want the lands that she will inherit from her mother?

Carol McGrath follows the story of Gunnhild’s marriage with a convincing depiction of courtly life in t
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Life in England after 1066 was hard for the 'losing' side. The women were in a very difficult situation: a few went into exile, some were forced to marry an 'enemy' and many retreated to a convent in fear of their safety. This is the second book of the series (after The Hanfasted Wife) and focuses on the life of Gunnhild, the youngest daughter of King Harold. She was sent to Wilton Abbey to complete her education and for her safety. The cloistered life might be safe but Gunnhild hated life behin ...more
Karen Barth
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off, read book 3 in this series, The Bethrothed Sister, befor reading this one. The reason is two-fold. First, book 3 is actually chronologically the second in order. Most importantly, book 2 reveals too much about sister Thea's fate and thus takes away some of the suspense in that book.

Often times sequels don't measure up to the first installment, but not the case here. This story follows the life of Gunnhilde, the youngest daughter of King Harold II and his hand-fasted wife, Elditha. Th
Dec 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is interested in the early Middle Ages.
Fascinating! The author has done a truly magnificent job of enabling the reader be there and feel what it was like starting in 1076 through until the end of the story. I loved this book!! I have read a great deal of books about England many of them discussed the role of a noblewoman, but this is the first book that has enabled me to understand all the 'jobs' a noblewoman would do as chatelaine of a castle, estate, etc. No easy task as is seen in The Swan Daughter. I am looking forward to The Bet ...more
Suzanne Reed
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Gunnhild Godwin's story

Gunnhild Godwin's story

Ms. McGrath's tales of an age long gone just keep getting better. The years she writes about and the people she tells us about are those which most lay people don't have much information. she gives us this in a very real, down to earth, way: as if I were there being a part of the journey. Definitely would I recommend to all lovers of history, whichever timeframe you 'like'. Thanks, Msn. McGrath.
Carol Flatten
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I like this series of books about the ancient royaly of pre Norman envasion. The historical facts are interesting, the fact that women were chattel to be used to gain power was appauling but none-the-less rewarding to see how cleverly they worked through the handicap and managed a reasonably happy life. All the characters were believable and the history of the time well researched.
Karin Jenkins
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
An absorbing historical novel imagining the life of King Harold’s youngest daughter after 1066 from fragments that are known about her. It gives a flavour of what the era might have been like including reactions to the Domesday survey.
Vanessa Woolley
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like The Handfasted Wife, I found this book compelling and interesting with a tinge of lovely romance
Jenny Barden
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As delicately crafted as the stiches of the Bayeux Tapestry, 'The Swan-Daughter' establishes Carol McGrath’s exceptional skill as a novelist of the Medieval era. Her research into the everyday details of life in the eleventh century shines through, especially life for a woman of noble birth such as Gunnhild, daughter of the defeated King Harold. Gunnhild must find ways of achieving self-fulfilment within the constraints of the conventions of the age, despite the attempts of men of power to manip ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book provided a good idea of life in the 11th century, post-Norman Conquest. It brought to life the sights, smells, and activities that were the norm. My only criticisms are that there was some repetitiveness in the details, and it leaned too much into the romance genre. I love the history; and I enjoyed experiencing the lives of the people.
Miss J
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Indeed fascination view

Though fiction it is indeed a fascinating insight to yet another little known great medieval lady and what she could have been like.

Story is kept at a good pace and not to 'romantic', so doesn't get repetitive and you don't end up skipping parts.
Marie Z. Johansen
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Historical Fiction Read

Working my way through this most excellent trilogy. These books are , imho, are very well done and are engrossing reading
Deborah Swift
Oct 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Swan-Daughter is even better than the Handfasted Wife, which is in itself an excellent read. It follows the adventures of Gunnhild, daughter of Elditha and King Harold. The period of the Norman Conquests is brought vibrantly to life by Carol McGrath, with all the rich detail of the period woven skilfully into the narrative.

Gunnhild is a sympathetic and believable heroine. She was brought up in the local Abbey, and as a noble lady the church has a vested interest in her lands and
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is book 2 of The Daughters of Hastings Trilogy. The first book being ‘The Hand-Fasted Wife’ and the third ‘The Betrothed Sister’. The Hastings of the title being that most important battle in English history in 1066 when William the Conqueror arrived on our shores. So, yes this is an historical piece of fiction using some actual facts and real people in order to create a fabulous piece of fiction.

Book 1 tells the story of Elditha, the hand-fasted and first wife of King Harold. T
Marsha Lambert
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Swan-Daughter by Carol McGrath tells the fictional account backed up with historical fact of the life of Gunnhild, daughter of King Harold II.

Beginning in the years just before the Conquest McGrath vividly recreates the turmoil and upheaval the Conquest brought to Gunnhild's life and that of her family. One can't help but be drawn into Gunnhild's world and feel her pain and anguish at what has happened to her family and the world as she's known it.

The author has the g
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the second of Carol McGrath's books on the daughters of King Harold (of arrow in the eye fame).

As in the Handfasted Wife, her first book in the series, this is a meticulously researched book. Fortunately Carol has the gift of not letting this get in the way of telling a rollicking good story. Its a fascinating era to write about, and in Carol's capable hands, to read about as well.

Alternating between England and Brittany, in a time when the Doomsday Book was causi
Eileen Iciek
Nov 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-researched novel on the life of Gunnhild, youngest daughter of Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England. The author has taken the broad outlines left in history to bring this woman back to life, and Gunnhild's story was quite compelling. And the descriptions of everyday life in this period are remarkable.

I did notice a couple of places where a little more proofreading would have helped - one character started as a "Brother Geoffrey" then turns into "Father Geoffrey
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
This second book in the planned trilogy is a wonderful continuation in the story of The Daughters of Hastings series. The history is obviously well researched and the attention to the living style of the nobles of the time is outstanding. Even with the detail required the story is kept moving so that you do not become mired down at any point. I am looking forward to the conclusion of the story when the third book comes out.
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very good!

I really like the way that Carol McGrath tells a story. She keeps things interesting and also tells of the history of the time period. The youngest Daughter of King Harold is sent to Abby with her Aunt Edith. After her Aunt dies she knows she has to escape the Nuns, which she does as an element with Lord Alan. Their marriage is not an easy one for Gunnhild. This is the story of it. I liked it and I am looking forward to the 3rd book in the trilogy.
Tina Musich
This book was easy to read, but didn't have much of a story to it. I couldn't point out the climax to you if you asked. All the characters were ok. They weren't good or bad, they were ok. I guess it was just a bit "blah" for my taste. I liked the info about life in those times, but I found the very progressive thoughts of the main character to be forced.
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished the second book in the trilogy. As good as the first one. This story follows one of Elditha's daughters. Am not a fan of a lot of romance in historic novels, but the "forbidden" love story in the book was very moving. Also highly recommend this book to anyone loving historical fiction and this period of time.
Jul 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle-edition
Excellent! Part 2 of the Daughters of Hastings takes up where #1 left off - only this with her daughter, Gunnhild. Great story, well-researched history, fabulous characters. This really is a wonderful series. I believe #3 comes out in the autumn of 2015.
wanda vahle
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Historical Fiction

Excellent read. It is historical fiction and Ms. McGrath does her research. She takes liberties as needed. The characters are well developed. A great story, well told.
Jun 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable and informative read . A hallmark of Carol's writing up to now is her focus on women from history and how they use their influence and soft power to survive in a time when many of their rights were limited by their husbands and a patriarchal society.
Ellen Ekstrom
I did not give this book 2 stars. I haven't finished reading it yet. This, I hope is a computer glitch, because I absolutely loved the first book and what I've read of Swan Daughter I like so far. Perhaps I clicked in error, and for that I apologize to the author!
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
See my review at Reading World.
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good story but like the others in this series they lacked details.
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exelent time period!
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My first degree is in History and English from Queens University Belfast. I have a postgraduate MA in writing from Queens University and an Mphil in writing from The Royal Holloway ,University of London. My debut novel The Handfasted Wife is the first in a Trilogy The Daughters of Hastings. The first is the story of 1066 and its aftermath from the perspective of the noble women. The Swan-Daughter ...more

Other books in the series

Daughters of Hastings (3 books)
  • The Handfasted Wife (Daughters of Hastings, #1)
  • The Betrothed Sister (Daughters of Hastings #3)
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