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Publisher's Summary

October 14, 1066. Two armies converge to decide the fate of England....  

The most famous date in English history, when the might of the English Saxons faced the wrath of the Norman invasion. The man who stormed the sands of Sussex was William, bastard duke of Normany, the man they eventually came to call the Conqueror.... 

But the heart of the conqueror was Matilda, lady of Flanders and duchess of Normandy. At the side of the most famous warlord of history, Matilda worked, not as a quiet, modest wife, but as a leader...as a ruler just as ruthless as her husband. Under her soft mask of beauty and modesty there lay the heart of a woman powered by ambition. A woman who was strong, courageous, and devious.... 

Through the eyes of one of the most extraordinary women of history unfold the events leading to the invasion of England and the battle that would decide its fate....  

This is the story of Matilda, lady of Flanders, duchess of Normandy, and queen of England.  

Contains mature themes.

©2017 Gemma Lawrence (P)2018 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Matilda first Queen of England

loved you have to read this it's so awsome and gives a different perspective on the women's view of her queenship

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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loved it

what a wonderful story looking forward to the second book in the series . you should definitely read this

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Courageous Heart

LOVED how the author has uniquely shown how Matilda chose to marry William despite circumstances a bride todsy would find appalling! A new and fresh look at the first Queen of England and all her struggles and human qualities as well as the great liove she had for husband and her children. Look forward to a sequal.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Piaras
  • Cork, Ireland
  • 11-25-18

An exceptionally well-crafted historical fiction.

Author Gemma Lawrence weaves a captivating historical fiction with intriguing twists and turns that will easily captivate the reader’s attention from the beginning. The author paints a gripping story of power, ambition and brutality in a very vivid and convincing way. In addition, the characters are drawn with great credibility and conviction. It's a moderately fast-paced novel that will keep you engaged from the first page to the last.

The book description gives a sneak preview: 'The most famous date in English history, when the might of the English Saxons faced the wrath of the Norman invasion. The man who stormed the sands of Sussex was William, bastard Duke of Normandy, the man they eventually came to call the Conqueror... But the Heart of the Conqueror was Matilda, Lady of Flanders and Duchess of Normandy. At the side of the most famous war-lord of history, Matilda worked, not as quiet, modest wife, but as a leader... as a ruler just as ruthless as her husband. Under her soft mask of beauty and modesty there lay the heart of a woman powered by ambition. A woman who was strong, courageous and devious...

Through the eyes of one of the most extraordinary women of history unfold the events leading to the invasion of England and the battle that would decide its fate...'

Now, if that's not enough to get your whet your appetite, I don't know what will. But if you want to find out what happens, you'll just have to turn the pages for yourself! However, I will say it was well worth the read. It's my first time reading this author and I must say I was very impressed.

Captivating and commendable, this work had me immersed from the beginning. It's an impassioned historical fiction interwoven with true-life history. The story flowed from scene to scene with ease, and the author shows exceptional ability when it comes to storytelling. There are plenty of attention-grabbing moments in this page turner that will take the reader on a truly compelling and fascinating journey.

It's one of those books that comes along occasionally that makes you want to read it non-stop until you get to the end. Although this is a somewhat 'meaty' read, it's unlikely that it could be finished in one or two sittings. Nevertheless, for those looking for an interesting, three-dimensional and stimulating read, this would be a rare find. I'm giving nothing further away here. And this, I hope, will only add to the mystery and enjoyment for the reader.

If this book is anything to go by, I'll certainly be looking forward to reading more from Gemma Lawrence in the future. It also has a distinctly cinematic feel to it and I could easily see it being adapted for the Silver Screen or perhaps follow in the footsteps of Downton Abbey. A well-deserved five stars from me.

Special mention also to Marnye Young for her excellent narration. An exceptionally talented lady with a gifted voice for storytelling.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Very interesting and compelling novel

When I bought this book, I had never heard of Matilda of Normandy. This really surprised me because I have been a student of British history for my entire life and thought I knew of all of the royals from the Saxons down to the present day. At first I thought this was a novel about Queen Matilda's granddaughter the Empress Matilda daughter of Henry I.

Instead I was transported back to the 11th century to the years just before the Norman Conquest to learn about Matilda of Flanders, wife of William, Duke of Normandy who led the Battle of Hastings and changed the history of Britain. While this is a work of historical fiction and the details are not true,i.e it is impossible for the author to know the thoughts and intimate moments of Matilda's life, if the broader aspects of this woman's life are known to be true, she was a remarkable and strong woman. She was a true partner of her husband and participated in his politics and war planning. Matilda is highly intelligent, beautiful, creative, and sensual. Her relationship with the duke is described in great detail. This is a very romantic novel.

The narrator is wonderful. She has a deep, sensual voice that is just perfect for Matilda. I have spent man enjoyable hours listening to her read this book to me.

I was a bit disappointed that this book only covered the years before 1066, but that is why there is a sequel. I am looking forward to listening to that book as soon as my credits are available.

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Bad

This is not good historical fiction, sadly. The story could be amazing, but this is rubbish.

The character is a narcissist and lacks any of the qualities of a woman of the time. It has badly written sex scenes and is more of an historical romance, than a well written historical fiction novel.

Matilda of Flanders was an incredible woman of history, but she is not captured in this story.

Lastly, the narrator reads with a bizarre exaggerated flair that makes our narcissistic heroine sound even more vapid and conceited.

I had a lot of hope for this book, as I recently finished Alison Weir’s History “Queen’s of the Conquest” and was truly amazed by the life of Matilda of Flanders. The “Bastard” was a loving husband, despite their unbelievable first meeting. (I won’t spoil anything for anyone.) This Matilda was beloved and respected by England, by her family, and especially her seemingly faithful husband.

Nothing of her true greatness comes across in this book. It’s trashy.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Cannot get past first chapter.

I’m sorry but the narrator for this title is so false and annoying that I find myself cringing constantly. I have had three attempts but have not managed to get past eleven minutes.
Such a shame as the subject promises to be fascinating. This is one I will read myself rather than be subjected to such an aural assault again.
There is no way I will choose a title read by this narrator in the future!

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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not my favorite

This book was difficult for me to enjoy and I really even finish it. I've read a good amount on Matilda and William but the portrayal of Matilda and her hoighty-toighty attitude in this book was very off-putting, for lack of a better term. Who knows maybe that's how she was in real life! For me though, it was not an enjoyable book.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-29-18

Good story; some detail overdone; great narration



I purchased the audio version of the book. Overall, there is much to commend the story but I found a few aspects annoyingly distracting from what is otherwise a powerful narrative. I love historical fiction and especially this period. On the positive side, the story gives a fresh slant to the momentous events of 1066 and their lead-up. The historical facts, as far as we know them, are generally woven nicely with Lawrence's imagination and well written, although I felt the depiction of Harold to be one dimensional. However, quite often, I found the narrative bogged down in unnecessary description about Matilda, eg gratuitous sex (I must be getting old) and her focus on her personal appearance and clothing. Matilda comes across to me as a narcissist. I'm not sure if that's what Lawrence intended. While one shouldn't read a book by its cover, the image of Matilda on the audio book cover doesn't help, as she looks like someone from a cosmetics commercial. If I had a hard copy, I would edit by skipping pages; this isn't as easy with an unabridged recording. Despite these issues, I really enjoyed Young's narration. She takes on a range of characters: female, male; mature, young; different socio-economic backgrounds; and many emotional contexts. Her delivery is excellent throughout; and often captivating. She brings the story to life. If the audio version could have edited out the descriptive excesses of the story; this would be a solid five-star.