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#HistFicThursdays - On Bur Oak Ridge - Jenny Knipfer - Book Excerpt

  Today, I'm delighted to hosting Jenny Knipfer once more, this time with the next book in her Sheltering Trees series: On Bur Oak Ridge . I'm sharing a short extract, but first, let's meet the book... “The plot has its twists and turns to keep readers intrigued…to the very end. A great comfort read that will soothe the spirit with renewed hope and faith.” Readers’ Favorite five-star review  A HISTORICAL NOVEL OF FINDING HEALING AND A SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE In the early 1900s, quiet and reserved Molly Lund finds refuge from her past at the Nelsons’ farm in Minnesota. In an attempt to turn a new page in her life, Molly works at making peace with her losses and coming to terms with the disfiguring burns on her face.  Samuel Woodson, the Nelsons’ hired hand, carries his own cares. Split from his family and bearing a burden of misplaced guilt for an act that haunts him, Samuel – seeing past Molly’s scars – draws her out of her self-protective shell.  Molly and Samuel form a frie

#HistFicThursdays - Horrible Histories 7 - Love Rats

It was my birthday at the start of July, and I knew exactly how to celebrate in style! While most people might choose to celebrate their 37th birthday by going for a drink or out to the theatre or any such adventure, I stayed home and celebrated by watching the Horrible Histories songs in chronological order on a three-hour marathon of musical history! We attempted to remember them all in order (and did a reasonable job!), but the only one we missed was this one.

In an attempt to redress the balance, I've opted to cover it in this month's blog!

Unlike the other songs we've had, which focus on one person or time period, this song gives us a cross-section of times. It stars Henry VIII, Nero, William I, Cleopatra, and Edward VIII, and two very cute little rats! As the title suggests, it assesses each of these rulers as lovers (no, not like that!), with their romantic relationships - or "unromantic", as the case might be!

I really believe Henry VIII loved Catherine of Aragon. He remained married to her for ten years after the birth of Mary I before he began searching to annul the marriage and, when he finally divorced her, it was not only at the expense of their relationship, it also served to provide a schism between England and much of Europe. With regard to his relationships, they now began spiralling out of control and he got through wives at a dramatic rate. He certainly was a rat when it came to affairs of the heart, and seemed to have only thoughts for himself regarding each and every one of his relationships.

It's a little bit hard to work out what Nero was doing - the man was somewhat of a lunatic! Despite the likelihood of Poppaea's death being his fault, he appears to have loved her in his own peculiar way. Following her death, she received a spectacular funeral, and was awarded divine honours. His third wife, like Henry VIII's Catherine Parr, was more shrewd than her predecessors and ultimately outlived her husband and retained a certain level of dignity in doing so.

William I, or William the Conqueror, was not such a fatal love rat, but today there would certainly be a case against him for domestic abuse! In The Year We Lived, his early indiscretions have sired significant children within the family of Matilda, who he later married. There's no proof that this happened but then there's no proof it didn't! It certainly made for an interesting development in the book. Matilda was a clever partner, shrewd and persuasive to her husband's fiery temper, and she appears to have had a knack for establishing peaceful relationships with the use of words and diplomacy.

Traveling back in time again (this song is a bit like a pinball machine), the song turns to Cleopatra. We get an image of Antony and Cleopatra as being akin to the star-crossed lovers of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but she did not take her life for love, but to escape being a spectacle in Octavian's triumph. I suspect, had this not been on the cards, she would have found another husband and continued in her quest for domination.

And then, as proof not all romances of rulers were violent or deadly, the song presents Edward VIII. While his marriage to Wallis Simpson certainly sparked a romantic chord in the hearts of the population, it also showed a distinct weakness in the royal family, in that they were no longer willing to offer their all to the role their birth had dictated. With hindsight, it was a good move, as Edward VIII was a Nazi-sympathiser and was threatened with a court-martial if he failed to return to British lands.

From my own experience of writing and reading historical and fantasy fiction, we all like to imagine fairytale endings for our kings and queens. In actual fact, although the first four of these are amongst the worse there were, romance was not high on the list of priorities for a ruler - if it made the list at all! People have tried to romanticise the six wives of Henry VIII, or the double suicide of Antony and Cleopatra, but there is plenty to suggest these relationships owed as much to self-interest as love.

They do, however, provide us with great insights into the actual relationships and how much was at stake in them. Perhaps you write of rulers, or perhaps you write of the ordinary person. Whichever it is, remember the behaviour of the ruling class filters through to the lower classes. Plenty of people witnessed the Duke of Normandy dragging Matilda by her hair, or Edward VIII's abdication by way of a growing media power. It is not unrealistic to say that, by merit of their leaders, these times of love rats were tumultuous in affairs of the heart!


  1. I agree that Henry VIII truly loved Catherine of Aragon, to begin with anyway, as he was married to her for longer than all the other wives put together. It's interesting to wonder how a nasty head injury he sustained whilst jousting may have changed his temperament; I think it definitely soured his personality!


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