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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

The Northern Queen by Kelly Evans

The Northern Queen - Kelly Evans

I started reading this book and was somewhat confused. Aelfgifu? Isn't that Canute's harridan wife from the north who tries to ruin everything for Emma? How can she be enjoying a romantic moment with her husband or - heaven forbid! Making Emma out to be the evil one?


This unique perspective on King Canute's rival wives may have thrown me for a loop after reading so many positive portrayals of Emma, but that is also exactly what I love about historical fiction. Just as Richard III was made a hero in Sunne in Splendour or Thomas Cromwell made to shine in Wolf Hall, Aelfgifu is a heroine we can feel empathy for in Evans' Northern Queen.


I'm glad that I read this book, because, though I try to keep in mind that we don't know all that we think we do about historical figures, Aelfgifu is one whom I have never considered another side of. The idea that she may have truly loved Canute never really crossed my mind. Any time I am forced to reevaluate my perspective and peer into another possible view of history, I am grateful.


Aelfgifu's role keeps her on the sidelines of events, which makes her story one of a woman who thought to be queen but in reality is a woman often left waiting to hear news from others. This is a difficult way to write while keeping the story moving along, and Evans does an admirable job of it.


If you've ever wanted to see Emma's power struggle from the other side, this is the book for you.