Author Guest Post | “GODIVA: Saint or Goddess?” by Eliza Redgold the author of NAKED: A novel of Lady Godiva!

Posted Monday, 16 November, 2015 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

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Quite an interesting story behind how I was able to become attached to the UK blog tour for NAKED, as the publicist working on scouting book bloggers to host the author and the novel stumbled across my blog thinking I was a UK book blogger! The joy that overflowed inside my heart at this realisation was unlimited in measure because it was the first true glimpse of how my words and my blog are resonating with the reading public. I have discovered my own niche in writing to have organically merged into a new hybrid style of written voice where I combine both my British ancestry with my American roots to convey a new methodology of how my words own my writerly thoughts!

This was a way for me to find independence from my dyslexia as much as seek a written voice that truly owned itself to being uniquely my own. To have a publicist find my book blog and take the context of what I’ve written here in this space in the book blogosphere as a naturally speaking Briton was quite the compliment to receive! I eagerly read as much British fiction as I can by modern and classical British authors because at my heart’s core I am an Anglophile. However, to discover that my passion for British Lit and the phrasing of British English has attracted notice by those who live in the UK was such a lovely piece of feedback to receive!

Thereby, after conferring with the author, the publicist was able to add me to this mini-UK blog tour wherein I asked if I could feature both a review and a guest author feature. The author at the time of my enquiry was stateside on a leg of her IRL book tour, wherein she was able to post me a copy of the book and confirm that she could send me an essay about the origins of the mythology and legend of Lady Godiva. I had intended to pitch a topic quite close to the one she sent me to feature, that I yielded to the author’s inspiration of where to take today’s topic.

What made me smile is how she seemingly knew before asking me where my curiosity lies in regards to the myth and how much I yearned to know more about the historical back-story of how she as a writer was able to carry forward the character within the pages of NAKED. I hope dear hearts you will appreciate reading this lovely essay as much as I did when it first arrived in my Inbox!

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Naked by Eliza Redgold

We know her name. We know of her naked ride. We don’t know her true story.

We all know the legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry, covered only by her long, flowing hair. So the story goes, she begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. Lord Leofric demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town. There are various endings to Godiva’s ride, that all the people of Coventry closed their doors and refused to look upon their liege lady (except for ‘peeping Tom’) and that her husband, in remorse, lifted the tax. Naked is an original version of Godiva’s tale with a twist that may be closer to the truth: by the end of his life Leofric had fallen deeply in love with Lady Godiva. A tale of legendary courage and extraordinary passion, Naked brings an epic story new voice.

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Godiva: Saint or Goddess

This blog post comes to us from Eliza Redgold, author, academic and unashamed romantic. Her new novel Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva will be released by St Martin’s Press on Bastille Day (July 14 2015).

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“My father dreamed of building in stone,” I said. “He dreamed of a castle. And my mother used to say, Better to have castles made of wood than made of air, Radulf.”  Leofric smiled; the unexpected boyish smile that seemed to go straight to my core. “And what did your father say to that?” “He said dreams must come first.” “Dreams must come first. And what would you build?” “My mother believed we should build a church before we rebuilt the hall. She always wanted to have a stone church for Coventry. A church should be the first stone building, she said, for a church is for everyone. She and Brother Aefic long planned it. One day I hope to build it in her memory. I would make it so fine that all the townsfolk would want to come. I would build it with glass windows as they do in the great cities.” “So buildings made of dreams do last,” he murmured. “The dreams of your parents have become yours.”  “Perhaps dreams are passed down along with lands.”
Quote from NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva

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How old is the legend of Lady Godiva?
A thousand years, or more?
Was she a real life woman, or does her story reach back even further in time?
Let’s follow the golden thread and find out.

Lady Godiva has a secret past. There was a real, philanthropic woman called Countess Godgyfu who founded the monastery on which the first cathedral of Coventry was built. She gave valuable gifts to the city, including bequeathing a silver necklace, which was believed to once adorn the neck of the Cathedral’s statue of the Virgin Mary. Further back in history, Godiva’s legend was linked to saints and goddesses.

In their book Virtuous Magic: Women Saints and their Meanings, authors Sara Maitland and Wendy Mumford include Godiva of Coventry. Godiva’s story, like that of many saints, includes elements of folk story, local tradition and memory of her exceptional goodness and philanthropy and had similarities to stories of many saints from the same or earlier periods. In particular, Godiva’s legend has been linked to the earlier tale of St Agnes, the third century virgin martyr.

In The Golden Legend complied by Jacobus de Voragine in the 13th century, the beautiful Agnes was forced to walk naked through the town as a punishment for refusing to give up her faith. Agnes’s hair miraculously grew long enough to cover her, and such a bright angelic light surrounded her that no man could see her.

The story of St Agnes and Godiva are clearly of the same family: the long (golden) hair and the piety that overcame debauchment and even being seen – just as in the folk tale the townsfolk of Coventry could not/would not see their liege lady (except for peeping Tom).

Let’s go back even further in time. Godiva’s tale is connected to Greek and Celtic myths and sacred, semi-clad female processions. The Teutonic goddess Hertha made a procession through the woods after her ritual bath, while in Greek legend it was at a man’s peril to witness the woodland bathing of the goddess of the hunt, Diana. Godiva’s ride may well have descended from one of these parades.

In another version, Godiva’s ride is not a procession, but a love-chase. In this story, Leofric sets his wife a riddle to test her. She must come to him neither being clothed or unclothed, without a foot touching the ground. Cleverly, Godiva rides rather than walks and covers her naked body with a golden net of her hair. In some tellings of this love chase, Godiva is accompanied by a hare – connecting her to the Celtic goddess of Spring, Eostre. She has also been connected to another spring goddess who took a May-Day procession to summon the new season. Her name? The goddess Goda.

Like many pagan myths, such stories were absorbed into Christianity. It was in the Middle Ages that Goda’s tale became connected with the real and genuinely philanthropic Countess Godgyfu and the old pagan love-chase became a Christian procession celebrating her piety.

Godiva’s story has come down to us through the ages in a mix of fact, folk-lore and legend. Some call her a goddess, some call her a saint. All we know for certain is that Godiva’s extraordinary story continues to catch us in the net of her long, golden hair.

Reid Boyd, Elizabeth. The Sexy Saint. Presented at the Popular Culture Association Conference, Cincinnati, Ohio, October, 2015.

About Eliza Redgold

Eliza Redgold

ELIZA REDGOLD is an author, academic and unashamed romantic. She writes historical fiction (St Martin’s Press) and romance (Harlequin).

NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva was released internationally by St Martin’s Press New York in 2015. Her ‘Romance your Senses’ series of contemporary romances are published by Harlequin. They include Black Diamonds, Hide and Seek and Wild Flower. Eliza is also contracted to Harlequin Historical for two upcoming Victorian historical romances. Look out for Enticing Benedict Cole in November 2015.

Eliza Redgold is based upon the old, Gaelic meaning of her name, Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd. English folklore has it that if you help a fairy, you will be rewarded with red gold. She has presented academic papers on women and romance and is a contributor to the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Romance Fiction. She was born in Irvine, Scotland on Marymass Day and currently lives in Australia.

Converse via: #NAKED or #LadyGodiva

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I had a suspicion that Lady Godiva might be within the pages of lore, mythology and stem out of the world of Goddesses at some junction because of how re-imagined her essence is today. Depending on which thread of connection you take to reach Lady Godiva, you will find a new set of eyes in which to see her and understand her history. One thing does seem to remain the same: the inner heart of who she was and what she stood for as a person history chooses not to forget.

The beauty I think is that her greatest legacy of all is giving a nod towards charity and kindheartedness to others whilst seeking to become a voice for women’s rights in regards to standing firm in the right to choose their lover’s passion. She’s a bit of a remarkable woman – irregardless if she truly lived or if she’s a partial composite on different women altogether. The best legends are those who have a fraction of truth in their histories and a measure of connective yield to their appreciation by those who seek to believe the goodness of the whole.

To me it sounds like the legend of Lady Godiva has become a way to keep generations interested in a story which could only be told through fable and myth; thereby protecting her identity or rather the greater truth behind who she really was in actuality. What an enchanting back-story to uncover as this essay truly paints a clear picture of how inspired Ms Redgold was to pursue her protagonist!

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This author guest post is courtesy of: Neets Marketing & Eliza Redgold.

Return to Jorie Loves A Story on Wednesday, 18th November for my ruminative thoughts!

Seeking more reader reviews and guest author features?

Currently there is a Goddess Fish Promotions blog tour for NAKED.

Running concurrent is Neets Marketing week of NAKED loveliness, follow @NeetsMarketing!

Previously there was an HFVBTs blog tour for NAKED:

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Happily leave your commentary and feedback for the author in the comment threads!

Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva.

Similar to blog tours where I feature book reviews, as I choose to highlight an author via a Guest Post, Q&A, Interview, etc., I do not receive compensation for featuring supplemental content on my blog. I provide the questions for interviews and topics for the guest posts; wherein I receive the responses back from publicists and authors directly. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them; I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers.

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{SOURCES: The book cover for “NAKED” and the author’s photograph of Eliza Redgold given to me by Neets Marketing and used with permission. The book synopsis for “NAKED” and the quotation from the novel were provided by the author Eliza Redgold and used with permission. HFVBTs banner for the NAKED tour provided by HFVBTs and used with permission. Writerly Topics Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded due to the codes provided by Twitter.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 16 November, 2015 by jorielov in 11th Century, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Excerpt, Bookish Discussions, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Folklore and Mythology, Historical Fiction, Inspired by Stories, Lady Godiva, Reader Submitted Guest Post (Topic) for Author, Story knitted out of Ancestral Data

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2 responses to “Author Guest Post | “GODIVA: Saint or Goddess?” by Eliza Redgold the author of NAKED: A novel of Lady Godiva!

  1. Thank you so much for having me (and Lady Godiva) on this gorgeous bookish website. The way you have put this post together is beautiful and I loved the story of your reviewing/blogging journey. This has truly brought warmth to my heart – and I hope Godiva warms many more.

  2. neetswriter

    Thank you so much for the mention, Jorie-it’s been a pleasure working with you. And thanks for presenting Eliza’s post so very beautifully, it looks fab! :-)

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