Available in paperback December 6, 2011:
A Novel of Margaret of Scotland
|Read an Excerpt|
Visit Scotland today and you will undoubtedly hear about the highly revered and very much adored Queen Margaret. Scotland ’s only royal saint, Margaret’s reign ended in the eleventh century and yet, to this day, legends and links to Margaret still flourish throughout the country. A Saxon princess, she was a refugee seeking shelter in Scotland when she married the warrior-king, Malcolm Canmore of Scotland . At first despised for her foreign ways, Margaret’s incredible acts of charity and kindness changed minds and the Scots who once resented her quickly grew to adore her. Shortly after her death, a contemporary biography of Margaret’s life was written by her personal confessor, Bishop Turgot of England , adding to the mystique of the good and saintly queen. Turgot praised Margaret as a devout woman and devoted monarch, painting a portrait of pure perfection—but for author Susan Fraser King, something was very much missing. In doing her own research into Queen Margaret’s life, King discovered Margaret had a fierce temper, a taste for adventure, and even a reckless side. For all her good qualities, Margaret was a real woman with real flaws, and in QUEEN HEREAFTER: A Novel of Margaret of Scotland (Crown; December 7, 2010), King set out to portray the very real and complex woman behind the legend, offering readers a glimpse into the life of a medieval queen as it might have been.
In QUEEN HEREAFTER we meet Margaret, a young Saxon princess forced into exile upon the death of her uncle, the English king. While fleeing the country from Norman invaders, she is shipwrecked with her family on the coast of Scotland where the recently widowed King Malcolm Canmore offers them sanctuary. Malcolm’s kindness, however, is not without motive. In Margaret he sees a political prize and so he promises to help her brother, the outlawed rebel Edgar of England, in return for his sister’s hand in marriage.
Despite their less than ideal beginnings, Margaret and Malcolm come to love and care for one another. Their marriage, a challenge at first, evolves, while Margaret steps wholeheartedly into the role of queen, immediately setting out to improve the lives of her people. However, tensions with the northern Scottish kingdom, ruled by the conniving Lady Macbeth, escalate and put Malcolm on edge. To ensure Lady Macbeth’s good behavior, the king brings Eva, a female bard and Macbeth’s granddaughter, to court as a hostage. While Eva expects to dislike and resent Margaret, the two discover an unlikely bond as outcasts of a sort—Eva as a wild Celtic spirit captive among her enemies and Margaret suppressing her passions as she endures increasing pressure as a queen and a mother of princes. Eva must betray the king and the new queen, however, in order to honor her devotion to her kinswoman and former monarch. Torn between loyalties, will Eva betray the queen she has always known—or the queen she has come to love?
King combines elegant, lyrical prose with detailed research conducted alongside prominent Celtic and medieval scholars to create an imaginative retelling of Queen Margaret’s life. QUEEN HEREAFTER offers a fresh, unique perspective on the remarkable young queen who would become a saint.
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