NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva by Eliza Redgold

Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo

One of the pleasures of large book signings is that an author usually ends up sitting next to strangers.  Over the course of two or three hours, much fun and talk occurs.  This happened to me at the Romance Writers of Australia conference when alphabetical order placed me next to Eliza Redgold, a delightful author and academic who looks like one of our romance heroines.  <G>  In July, St. Martin's Press released her new novel, Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva.  

NakedThe cover is stunning and the book kept me enthralled for much of the long flight home from Down Under, so I invited Eliza to visit the Word Wenches. Happily, she said yes.

MJP: To begin with, who is Eliza Redgold?

ER: Eliza Redgold is based upon the old, Gaelic meaning of my given name, Dr. Elizabeth Reid Boyd.  English folklore has it that if you help a fairy, you will be rewarded with red gold. I was born in Irvine, Scotland on Marymass Day and currently live in Australia.

MJP: Naturally, as soon as I read that, I had to go online to find out what Marymass Day is!  The holiday commemorates a visit Mary Queen of Scots made to Irvine, and there is a parade complete with the Queen and the four Marys who were famously her attendants.  Eliza, from what I found online, the festival is in August but the date isn't fixed?

ER:  Yes, it changes.  My grandmother went off to watch the parade, and when she came back, I'd been born!

MJP:  Obviously you didn't want to miss the fun.  <G>  What else can you tell us about yourself?  

ER:  I’m an author, academic and unashamed romantic. I’ve presented academic papers on women and romance and am a contributor to the Encyclopedia of Romance Fiction. I’ve researched Godiva in my academic life and am giving a paper soon at an American Cultural Association conference about Godiva’s importance to women and her return to popular culture. She’s a legend!

CathedralruinsMJP: Godiva is heiress to Coventry, the Middle Lands, the heartland of Anglo-Saxon England.  The city has a rich history, though Godiva's ride is probably the best known fact of Coventry's history.  In more recent history, Coventry is known for the massive destruction by Nazi firebombing in 1940 as they sought to destroy the city's vital war industries.  The beautiful 14th century cathedral was largely destroyed.  After the war, the ruins were preserved as a monument (picture on the left) while a ModernCathedral striking modern cathedral was built next door.  (On the right.) The old and new cathedral drew me to Coventry on my first visit to England many years ago, and the images are with me still.  (Please forgive the personal digression!)  

Eliza, in Naked, you create a wonderful sense of the time and place.  Can you tell us about your research?

ER: To look for Lady Godiva I made a trip to Coventry, England. It was difficult to find remnants of Godiva’s life, but I definitely experienced a strange feeling near the place where Godiva and Leofric are believed to be buried. Their spirits are in the air.

It was in Coventry I became convinced there was an untold story.  In most of the Godiva stories, Leofric of Mercia is definitely the villain of the piece, ready to impose heavy taxes and to force his wife to carry out her daring ride. Yet by the end of his life, I discovered historical documents reveal Lord Leofric was a changed man. I became determined to clear Lord Leofric’s name. I fell a bit in love with him – and I know some readers have too. But he’s a challenge! You’ll have to decide for yourself.

ElizaRedgoldMJP: What’s next for Eliza Redgold?

ER: As both an academic in gender studies and a novelist, I’m passionate about the telling of the tales of women. My ‘Romance your Senses’ series of short contemporary romances are published by Harlequin Escape and (MIRA) Australia.

A pair of my Victorian romances are about to be published by Harlequin Historical.  Enticing Benedict Cole (November 2015 release) is about an artist, a lady and a secret love.

MJP: Your writing in Naked is wonderfully poetic and evocative.  Can you give us an excerpt?  

ER: Here's a quote:

    The gleeman took up his place in front of the fire and began to sing.
     In a low tone no one else could hear my mother murmured to me. “This Witan council is important, Godiva. We won’t be gone too long and I want to be with your father. That’s how you know the man you love. The days are longer when you’re apart.”  
    Her attention moved to Edmund, deep in conversation with my father. “It’s a Saxon noblewoman’s right to choose the man she wishes to marry.”
    Many girls were married much younger than me. I’d been given time.
    Now Edmund wanted my answer.
    "As heiress to the Middle Lands, you must choose wisely.” From her belt my mother took some silver keys. “We’ll talk more when I return. We charge the care of Coventry to you while we are gone. Hang these from your belt and let them remind you of your duty to our people.”

    Cool and heavy. The keys had hung around my mother’s waist for as long as I could remember.  “I’ll wear them, Moder. I promise.”
    For a moment I wondered if I ought to tell her of Aine’s foreknowledge.  But she turned away to speak to my father.
    The gleeman began to beguile me. When I was small I’d fallen asleep at the table listening to the tale of Beowulf, lulled by its rowing rhythm. As my mother carried me to the bower I’d awoken from a dream filled with warriors, battling the monster Grendel.
    “Were they real?”  I’d asked, half asleep, my arms twining her neck.  
    “Were who real, my sweet heart?”
    “Beowulf. The heroes of the past.”
    “They’re as real as you would have them be, Godiva. As real as love or courage or honor or kindness. Though we can’t see these things, they are all that matter.”
    Her words floated back to me as the gleeman sang.
    From down the table, Edmund smiled.
    In a flash I knew what my answer would be.
       

I’ve also got some other Legendary Ladies calling out to have their stories told. I look forward to introducing them to you.

Thanks so much for having me on Word Wenches. It’s a real privilege – and one of my favorite sites.

BlackDiamondsMJP: Thanks so much for visiting the Word Wenches, Eliza.  I look forward to future Legendary Ladies from you!

In the meantime, Eliza will give away a copy of NAKED to someone who comments between now and midnight Tuesday.  What are your thoughts about Godiva?  To be honest, I hadn't thought a lot about her until I read Eliza's book, but now I'm enthralled! 

Mary Jo

140 thoughts on “NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva by Eliza Redgold”

  1. I can’t say that I’ve thought much about Godiva, but this definitely has me intrigued! I love the idea of exploring the real woman behind the story, in much the same way Susan Fraser King told the story of the real Lady Macbeth!
    And I love that you’re telling so many stories about women, Eliza. It’s sorely needed.

    Reply
  2. I can’t say that I’ve thought much about Godiva, but this definitely has me intrigued! I love the idea of exploring the real woman behind the story, in much the same way Susan Fraser King told the story of the real Lady Macbeth!
    And I love that you’re telling so many stories about women, Eliza. It’s sorely needed.

    Reply
  3. I can’t say that I’ve thought much about Godiva, but this definitely has me intrigued! I love the idea of exploring the real woman behind the story, in much the same way Susan Fraser King told the story of the real Lady Macbeth!
    And I love that you’re telling so many stories about women, Eliza. It’s sorely needed.

    Reply
  4. I can’t say that I’ve thought much about Godiva, but this definitely has me intrigued! I love the idea of exploring the real woman behind the story, in much the same way Susan Fraser King told the story of the real Lady Macbeth!
    And I love that you’re telling so many stories about women, Eliza. It’s sorely needed.

    Reply
  5. I can’t say that I’ve thought much about Godiva, but this definitely has me intrigued! I love the idea of exploring the real woman behind the story, in much the same way Susan Fraser King told the story of the real Lady Macbeth!
    And I love that you’re telling so many stories about women, Eliza. It’s sorely needed.

    Reply
  6. Hello
    Firstly I had not thought too much about Godiva either until I read this book and I loved it the story is beautifully written and a thoroughly enjoyable read and as my best friend comes from Coventry (although she does now live here in Australia) we had los of fun discussions and I saw pictures that she has of the clock in Coventry
    Have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  7. Hello
    Firstly I had not thought too much about Godiva either until I read this book and I loved it the story is beautifully written and a thoroughly enjoyable read and as my best friend comes from Coventry (although she does now live here in Australia) we had los of fun discussions and I saw pictures that she has of the clock in Coventry
    Have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  8. Hello
    Firstly I had not thought too much about Godiva either until I read this book and I loved it the story is beautifully written and a thoroughly enjoyable read and as my best friend comes from Coventry (although she does now live here in Australia) we had los of fun discussions and I saw pictures that she has of the clock in Coventry
    Have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  9. Hello
    Firstly I had not thought too much about Godiva either until I read this book and I loved it the story is beautifully written and a thoroughly enjoyable read and as my best friend comes from Coventry (although she does now live here in Australia) we had los of fun discussions and I saw pictures that she has of the clock in Coventry
    Have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  10. Hello
    Firstly I had not thought too much about Godiva either until I read this book and I loved it the story is beautifully written and a thoroughly enjoyable read and as my best friend comes from Coventry (although she does now live here in Australia) we had los of fun discussions and I saw pictures that she has of the clock in Coventry
    Have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  11. I’m excited to read Naked and see how you bring the Godiva legend to life. Legends of women have always fascinated me. I look forward to seeing what other women legends you bring into the light.

    Reply
  12. I’m excited to read Naked and see how you bring the Godiva legend to life. Legends of women have always fascinated me. I look forward to seeing what other women legends you bring into the light.

    Reply
  13. I’m excited to read Naked and see how you bring the Godiva legend to life. Legends of women have always fascinated me. I look forward to seeing what other women legends you bring into the light.

    Reply
  14. I’m excited to read Naked and see how you bring the Godiva legend to life. Legends of women have always fascinated me. I look forward to seeing what other women legends you bring into the light.

    Reply
  15. I’m excited to read Naked and see how you bring the Godiva legend to life. Legends of women have always fascinated me. I look forward to seeing what other women legends you bring into the light.

    Reply
  16. What a great interview, Mary Jo and Eliza!
    I’m really looking forward to reading this book and sinking into the time period.
    And thanks for the nod, Michelle! 😉

    Reply
  17. What a great interview, Mary Jo and Eliza!
    I’m really looking forward to reading this book and sinking into the time period.
    And thanks for the nod, Michelle! 😉

    Reply
  18. What a great interview, Mary Jo and Eliza!
    I’m really looking forward to reading this book and sinking into the time period.
    And thanks for the nod, Michelle! 😉

    Reply
  19. What a great interview, Mary Jo and Eliza!
    I’m really looking forward to reading this book and sinking into the time period.
    And thanks for the nod, Michelle! 😉

    Reply
  20. What a great interview, Mary Jo and Eliza!
    I’m really looking forward to reading this book and sinking into the time period.
    And thanks for the nod, Michelle! 😉

    Reply
  21. Michelle, I saw the same resemblance between Naked and Susan Fraser King’s historical novels. Both have researched deeply enough to spin plausible portraits of women from far in the past. Fascinating.

    Reply
  22. Michelle, I saw the same resemblance between Naked and Susan Fraser King’s historical novels. Both have researched deeply enough to spin plausible portraits of women from far in the past. Fascinating.

    Reply
  23. Michelle, I saw the same resemblance between Naked and Susan Fraser King’s historical novels. Both have researched deeply enough to spin plausible portraits of women from far in the past. Fascinating.

    Reply
  24. Michelle, I saw the same resemblance between Naked and Susan Fraser King’s historical novels. Both have researched deeply enough to spin plausible portraits of women from far in the past. Fascinating.

    Reply
  25. Michelle, I saw the same resemblance between Naked and Susan Fraser King’s historical novels. Both have researched deeply enough to spin plausible portraits of women from far in the past. Fascinating.

    Reply
  26. What a great interview.
    You will probably laugh but for me, Godiva is equal to chocolate.
    I love history and when I saw this book for the first time, I did a bit of research… and fell in love – with the history behind the story. I’m sure this is the type of book I will love to read. And I’m real curious to see who Eliza will write about in this series of hers.

    Reply
  27. What a great interview.
    You will probably laugh but for me, Godiva is equal to chocolate.
    I love history and when I saw this book for the first time, I did a bit of research… and fell in love – with the history behind the story. I’m sure this is the type of book I will love to read. And I’m real curious to see who Eliza will write about in this series of hers.

    Reply
  28. What a great interview.
    You will probably laugh but for me, Godiva is equal to chocolate.
    I love history and when I saw this book for the first time, I did a bit of research… and fell in love – with the history behind the story. I’m sure this is the type of book I will love to read. And I’m real curious to see who Eliza will write about in this series of hers.

    Reply
  29. What a great interview.
    You will probably laugh but for me, Godiva is equal to chocolate.
    I love history and when I saw this book for the first time, I did a bit of research… and fell in love – with the history behind the story. I’m sure this is the type of book I will love to read. And I’m real curious to see who Eliza will write about in this series of hers.

    Reply
  30. What a great interview.
    You will probably laugh but for me, Godiva is equal to chocolate.
    I love history and when I saw this book for the first time, I did a bit of research… and fell in love – with the history behind the story. I’m sure this is the type of book I will love to read. And I’m real curious to see who Eliza will write about in this series of hers.

    Reply
  31. I’ve always loved that Godiva, with an action that seems to debase her, comes across as a figure of medieval female empowerment. This book sounds fascinating!

    Reply
  32. I’ve always loved that Godiva, with an action that seems to debase her, comes across as a figure of medieval female empowerment. This book sounds fascinating!

    Reply
  33. I’ve always loved that Godiva, with an action that seems to debase her, comes across as a figure of medieval female empowerment. This book sounds fascinating!

    Reply
  34. I’ve always loved that Godiva, with an action that seems to debase her, comes across as a figure of medieval female empowerment. This book sounds fascinating!

    Reply
  35. I’ve always loved that Godiva, with an action that seems to debase her, comes across as a figure of medieval female empowerment. This book sounds fascinating!

    Reply
  36. Jean–I asked Eliza what next, but she wasn’t talking. Many factors go into deciding what book to write next–availability of research, coming up with a unifying theme, what the editor will buy. But I don’t doubt that her next Legendary Lady will also be excellent.

    Reply
  37. Jean–I asked Eliza what next, but she wasn’t talking. Many factors go into deciding what book to write next–availability of research, coming up with a unifying theme, what the editor will buy. But I don’t doubt that her next Legendary Lady will also be excellent.

    Reply
  38. Jean–I asked Eliza what next, but she wasn’t talking. Many factors go into deciding what book to write next–availability of research, coming up with a unifying theme, what the editor will buy. But I don’t doubt that her next Legendary Lady will also be excellent.

    Reply
  39. Jean–I asked Eliza what next, but she wasn’t talking. Many factors go into deciding what book to write next–availability of research, coming up with a unifying theme, what the editor will buy. But I don’t doubt that her next Legendary Lady will also be excellent.

    Reply
  40. Jean–I asked Eliza what next, but she wasn’t talking. Many factors go into deciding what book to write next–availability of research, coming up with a unifying theme, what the editor will buy. But I don’t doubt that her next Legendary Lady will also be excellent.

    Reply
  41. ML, that’s exactly what Eliza did with her Godiva. As a reader I really felt her shame and despair at such public humiliation, but also her devotion to her people and their well being. A powerful woman.

    Reply
  42. ML, that’s exactly what Eliza did with her Godiva. As a reader I really felt her shame and despair at such public humiliation, but also her devotion to her people and their well being. A powerful woman.

    Reply
  43. ML, that’s exactly what Eliza did with her Godiva. As a reader I really felt her shame and despair at such public humiliation, but also her devotion to her people and their well being. A powerful woman.

    Reply
  44. ML, that’s exactly what Eliza did with her Godiva. As a reader I really felt her shame and despair at such public humiliation, but also her devotion to her people and their well being. A powerful woman.

    Reply
  45. ML, that’s exactly what Eliza did with her Godiva. As a reader I really felt her shame and despair at such public humiliation, but also her devotion to her people and their well being. A powerful woman.

    Reply
  46. Judi–absolutely! On that long ago trip to Coventry,I met a woman who had been a nurse during WWII, and she remembered the night the old cathedral burned. It must have been heartbreaking for her–the heart of her community, burning. But Coventry recovered from that. Gallant people.

    Reply
  47. Judi–absolutely! On that long ago trip to Coventry,I met a woman who had been a nurse during WWII, and she remembered the night the old cathedral burned. It must have been heartbreaking for her–the heart of her community, burning. But Coventry recovered from that. Gallant people.

    Reply
  48. Judi–absolutely! On that long ago trip to Coventry,I met a woman who had been a nurse during WWII, and she remembered the night the old cathedral burned. It must have been heartbreaking for her–the heart of her community, burning. But Coventry recovered from that. Gallant people.

    Reply
  49. Judi–absolutely! On that long ago trip to Coventry,I met a woman who had been a nurse during WWII, and she remembered the night the old cathedral burned. It must have been heartbreaking for her–the heart of her community, burning. But Coventry recovered from that. Gallant people.

    Reply
  50. Judi–absolutely! On that long ago trip to Coventry,I met a woman who had been a nurse during WWII, and she remembered the night the old cathedral burned. It must have been heartbreaking for her–the heart of her community, burning. But Coventry recovered from that. Gallant people.

    Reply
  51. I have always felt that the story of Godiva was incorrectly told; I am interested in learning how Eliza Redgold tells this story.
    About modern Coventry. Are the readers familiar with Connie Willis’ stories about time travel back to the WWII era: Blackout and All Clear? In one of these, the time travelers are inside Coventry Cathedral as it is burning. (I am sorry that I have forgotten which of the two describes the firebombing, but the pair make very good reading.)

    Reply
  52. I have always felt that the story of Godiva was incorrectly told; I am interested in learning how Eliza Redgold tells this story.
    About modern Coventry. Are the readers familiar with Connie Willis’ stories about time travel back to the WWII era: Blackout and All Clear? In one of these, the time travelers are inside Coventry Cathedral as it is burning. (I am sorry that I have forgotten which of the two describes the firebombing, but the pair make very good reading.)

    Reply
  53. I have always felt that the story of Godiva was incorrectly told; I am interested in learning how Eliza Redgold tells this story.
    About modern Coventry. Are the readers familiar with Connie Willis’ stories about time travel back to the WWII era: Blackout and All Clear? In one of these, the time travelers are inside Coventry Cathedral as it is burning. (I am sorry that I have forgotten which of the two describes the firebombing, but the pair make very good reading.)

    Reply
  54. I have always felt that the story of Godiva was incorrectly told; I am interested in learning how Eliza Redgold tells this story.
    About modern Coventry. Are the readers familiar with Connie Willis’ stories about time travel back to the WWII era: Blackout and All Clear? In one of these, the time travelers are inside Coventry Cathedral as it is burning. (I am sorry that I have forgotten which of the two describes the firebombing, but the pair make very good reading.)

    Reply
  55. I have always felt that the story of Godiva was incorrectly told; I am interested in learning how Eliza Redgold tells this story.
    About modern Coventry. Are the readers familiar with Connie Willis’ stories about time travel back to the WWII era: Blackout and All Clear? In one of these, the time travelers are inside Coventry Cathedral as it is burning. (I am sorry that I have forgotten which of the two describes the firebombing, but the pair make very good reading.)

    Reply
  56. FABULOUS—and fascinating—interview, Eliza and Mary Jo. “Naked” sounds absolutely wonderful! Just my kind of book— historical research, and strong woman and artistic romanticism! It’s going to the top of the TBR pile.
    And love the red gold fairy folklore. I shall remember to be very helpful next time I meet a fairy>
    Thank you for visiting the Wenches!

    Reply
  57. FABULOUS—and fascinating—interview, Eliza and Mary Jo. “Naked” sounds absolutely wonderful! Just my kind of book— historical research, and strong woman and artistic romanticism! It’s going to the top of the TBR pile.
    And love the red gold fairy folklore. I shall remember to be very helpful next time I meet a fairy>
    Thank you for visiting the Wenches!

    Reply
  58. FABULOUS—and fascinating—interview, Eliza and Mary Jo. “Naked” sounds absolutely wonderful! Just my kind of book— historical research, and strong woman and artistic romanticism! It’s going to the top of the TBR pile.
    And love the red gold fairy folklore. I shall remember to be very helpful next time I meet a fairy>
    Thank you for visiting the Wenches!

    Reply
  59. FABULOUS—and fascinating—interview, Eliza and Mary Jo. “Naked” sounds absolutely wonderful! Just my kind of book— historical research, and strong woman and artistic romanticism! It’s going to the top of the TBR pile.
    And love the red gold fairy folklore. I shall remember to be very helpful next time I meet a fairy>
    Thank you for visiting the Wenches!

    Reply
  60. FABULOUS—and fascinating—interview, Eliza and Mary Jo. “Naked” sounds absolutely wonderful! Just my kind of book— historical research, and strong woman and artistic romanticism! It’s going to the top of the TBR pile.
    And love the red gold fairy folklore. I shall remember to be very helpful next time I meet a fairy>
    Thank you for visiting the Wenches!

    Reply
  61. Honestly, the first thing I think of when I hear Godiva is chocolate. It says something about both my priorities and society (as in the lack of emphasis on learning history) I think.
    I’ve really only heard the story and considered her to be pretty brave to make her ride for a noble cause, but never really thought much about her husband’s role….

    Reply
  62. Honestly, the first thing I think of when I hear Godiva is chocolate. It says something about both my priorities and society (as in the lack of emphasis on learning history) I think.
    I’ve really only heard the story and considered her to be pretty brave to make her ride for a noble cause, but never really thought much about her husband’s role….

    Reply
  63. Honestly, the first thing I think of when I hear Godiva is chocolate. It says something about both my priorities and society (as in the lack of emphasis on learning history) I think.
    I’ve really only heard the story and considered her to be pretty brave to make her ride for a noble cause, but never really thought much about her husband’s role….

    Reply
  64. Honestly, the first thing I think of when I hear Godiva is chocolate. It says something about both my priorities and society (as in the lack of emphasis on learning history) I think.
    I’ve really only heard the story and considered her to be pretty brave to make her ride for a noble cause, but never really thought much about her husband’s role….

    Reply
  65. Honestly, the first thing I think of when I hear Godiva is chocolate. It says something about both my priorities and society (as in the lack of emphasis on learning history) I think.
    I’ve really only heard the story and considered her to be pretty brave to make her ride for a noble cause, but never really thought much about her husband’s role….

    Reply
  66. That sounds amazing! I always think of her hair, rather enviously, because mine won’t grow long at all. That illustration on the cover is very much how imagine it.

    Reply
  67. That sounds amazing! I always think of her hair, rather enviously, because mine won’t grow long at all. That illustration on the cover is very much how imagine it.

    Reply
  68. That sounds amazing! I always think of her hair, rather enviously, because mine won’t grow long at all. That illustration on the cover is very much how imagine it.

    Reply
  69. That sounds amazing! I always think of her hair, rather enviously, because mine won’t grow long at all. That illustration on the cover is very much how imagine it.

    Reply
  70. That sounds amazing! I always think of her hair, rather enviously, because mine won’t grow long at all. That illustration on the cover is very much how imagine it.

    Reply

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