When an injured Fianna Byrne turns up at Connell O’Neill’s gate twelve years after their separation he knows this could be his last chance to find happiness with the woman he loves.
False accusations against Fianna had strained relations between their clans and forced Connell, under Irish law, to divorce her. Their disastrous three-month relationship left Fianna pregnant and heartbroken. She has avoided Duncarraig and her ex-husband ever since.
But with her home obliterated by the Vikings, Fianna must face her past in order to save her son, and prove once and for all she is a woman of courage.
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Today, we’re pleased to welcome author Marlow Kelly to Romantic Historical Reviews, to tell us about her latest story, set in Early Christian Ireland.
My latest novella, A Woman of Courage, is about a divorced couple in Ireland at the time of the Viking raids. But why set the story in Early Christian Ireland? Why did I stray from the tried and trusted eras in history that we all know and love? Because ever since I read Thomas Cahill’s book How the Irish Save Civilization I have been fascinated with this place and time.
We all know a little about Ireland’s long and harsh history, the English occupation, the famine, and the migration of tens of thousands of inhabitants wanting to escape poverty and hopelessness. But Ireland from 400AD – 800AD is a country with a unique culture where literature and learning blossom. In this period every cultivated European king would have at least one Irish scholar in his entourage.
For me the most fascinating aspect of early medieval Ireland is their attitude toward women. Although it was a male dominated society, women were allowed greater freedom, independence, and property rights than their European counterparts. Most women married, raised children and worked alongside their clans, but they were also free to choose a professional career, becoming poets, healers, and brehons (lawyers).
Under Irish Law a man never owned his wife or her property, they stayed in her control. And in the event of divorce she retained all her possessions. You might also be surprised to learn that divorce was an accepted practice and a woman could divorce her husband if he failed to provide support, spread false stories about her, was impotent, obese, homosexual, sterile, or was indiscreet about their marriage bed.
In A Woman of Courage, my heroine Fianna is queen of her clan, the Byrne. To be honest, I’m not sure if this is poetic license or not. According to Brehon Law, which was native Irish law, women could not own land and could therefore not rule their clan. And yet we know that Grace O’Malley (Gráinne Ní Mháille in Irish Gaelic) led her clan as queen and fought the English in the sixteenth century. She even met with Queen Elizabeth I. We only know about her life because she is documented in English records of the time, but there is no mention of her in any Irish writings. Were there other Irish queens that have been ignored by history? To be honest I don’t know, but if there were I like to think they would have been a lot like Fianna – caring, strong and courageous.
TO WIN A COPY OF A WOMAN OF COURAGE, ENTER AT RAFFLECOPTER. THE GIVEAWAY WILL BE OPEN FOR SEVEN DAYS, AND THE WINNER WILL BE NOTIFIED SHORTLY AFTER THE CLOSING DATE.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After being thrown out of England for refusing to drink tea, Marlow Kelly made her way to Canada where she found love, a home and a pug named Max. She also discovered her love of storytelling. Encouraged by her husband, children and let’s not forget Max, she started putting her ideas to paper. Her need to write about strong women in crisis drives her stories and her curiosity regarding the lives and loves of historical figures are the inspiration for her characters.