Monday 1 June 2020

The Inspiration behind my "Master Cook and the Maiden". Plus a new excerpt

Vengeance…or love? Will Alfwen have to choose between them? And what part will the handsome Master Cook, Swein, play in her life?

People sometimes ask me: "Where do you get your ideas from?" In the case of my Master Cook and the Maiden, it came from a real historical event.

In the early 14th century, a nun called Joan of Leeds "crafted a dummy... to mislead...She had no shame in procuring its burial in a sacred space" according to the Archbishop of York, William Melton.

By means of the dummy, she faked her own death and fled the convent of Saint Clement by York. Later gossip placed her in the city of Beverley and she was ordered to return to the monastic life by her Archbishop.

Joan's absconding from the convent is not the only one recorded. In 1301 another nun, called Cecily, stripped off her habit, disguised herself and rode off to live with one Gregory de Thornton. 

Clearly, the relgious life was not for everyone. 

In the case of my heroine Alfwen, she is not yet a nun. She fakes her death by drowning, a fate that could happen all too easily to laundresses who had to deal with heavy, waterlogged sheets and clothes in their local rivers. She gambles that the church authorities will consider her body swept away and so makes her escape.

Why she does so forms the catalyst of the story.

Vengeance…or love? Will Alfwen have to choose between them? And what part will the handsome Master Cook, Swein, play in her life? UK #Romance #MedievalRomance #RomanceNovel

New Excerpt

They made good time now to a moated manor house where Swein had agreed, via messages and parchment delivered by a very condescending herald, that he would interrupt his Lent to cook for a knight and lady. As Nutmeg clattered the waggon over the drawbridge, Swein took in a sharp breath and looked at her. “Take care here. It feels amiss.” “Then I am glad I am with you and left Teazel safely back at home,” Alfwen replied, with a calm she did not feel, but wanting to support this man who had rescued and always helped her. Rewarded by a flare of light in his amber eyes and a quick rumble of laughter she turned to face whatever trouble they found. “Will you call me Alf?” she ventured. “It is a part of my name.” He snorted, his humour restored. “If I must!” Alf was certainly better than “You, boy!” which Alfwen endured from the moment she stepped down from the waggon. “You, boy!” yelled a sweating, bearded giant of a man in a filthy tunic as Swein handed her a new leather apron, “Since you are finally here to work get to the well and fetch water, and then rake out the ovens, and then—” Further orders were stopped by Swein stepping up to the taller man so close their boots collided. “Stay, please,” he said to Alfwen, adding in the same breath, “Where is the head cook?” He smacked the letter of introduction against the giant’s chest, allowing all in the kitchen yard to see the lord’s seal. The bearded giant lost his ruddy colour and his bluster, pointing back at the windowless soot-stained building he had just emerged from. “I will introduce us,” Swein went on, glancing at the giant’s meaty fists. “You should get to the well and wash your hands.” He deliberately pushed by the cook and slammed open the door, ignoring the yowl of “Shut it!” from within. Instead he held it wider, allowing Alfwen to see what looked to be a scene from hell. By the light of flickering torches, half-naked, sweating bodies tended glowing orange fires and turned pieces of some kind of flesh on smoking griddles. In the middle of the kitchen, sitting on a bench that was raised to be almost a throne, a dumpy man with a cloth cap similar to Swein’s punched the air, cursed and exhorted “any of you bastards” to close the door. Swein did so and guided her away. “We need to see the lord,” was all he said, followed by “No wonder the lady is sick and needs special dishes made,” and “I hate bullies,” a few moments later. He offered Alfwen his arm, exactly as she dimly recalled Walter offering Enid his, and swept her away, clearly not caring if the round-eyed onlookers thought she was a lad.  

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