Sunday, 1 September 2013

The Needle in the Blood

Finished September 1
The Needle in the Blood by Sarah Bower

I picked up this book from the sale table at the bookstore because of the tag line "A powerful tale of sex, lies, and embroidery." I mean, how could I resist!
This is a historical romance set in the late 11th century beginning with the invasion of England by William of Normandy in 1066. Glytha is a young woman, originally from Wales, widowed and then a lay sisters in a nunnery, most recently lady in waiting to King Harold's mistress Edith Swan Neck.
When William's brother Odo takes it in his head to commission an embroidery chronicling the conquest, he gets his sister Agatha, now Sister Jean-Baptiste, to manage the project. One of her first tasks is finding embroiderers of sufficient skill to do the project and this search leads her to Glytha. Glytha has been forced to work she never would have envisioned herself doing, merely to survive, but she hesitates at working for the Normans until she discovers that it is Odo's project. Since she knows Odo is the king's brother and she knows he was present at Harold's death, she thinks she might have a chance of revenge if she joins the project.
However neither Odo nor Glytha could have predicted the sparks that fly between them, and how this attraction will affect both their lives. The two gradually reveal themselves and their histories to each other, growing in trust.
There is lots of sex and lies and the tag line suggests, and a fair bit of embroidery too. The embroidery in question here is what is now known as the Bayeux Tapestry. The interpretations of the tapestry and its imagery are both Bower's invention and drawn from historical research. While some of the characters, like William, Odo, and the Lanfranc are real historical figures, many are fictional. This is a tale of intrigue and politics, love and jealousy and an entertaining read.


  1. I like the description as well, sex and embroidery who knew those two would go together.

  2. Oh, I couldn't resist that tag line either! I hadn't seen this one, but love stories with needlework as one of the plot elements :) Will have to pick this one up!