Monday, March 9, 2020

Book Tour and Giveaway: Matilda Empress by Lise Arin

Title: Matilda Empress 
Author: Lise Arin
Publisher: Archer
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Print Length: 448 pages
Genres: Historical, Romance, Christian, Fiction 
~
Matilda, a twelfth-century Empress of the Holy Roman Empire and daughter of Henry I, is twenty-four years old and a widow. She returns to her father's double realm of England and Normandy and is promptly married against her will to Geoffrey, a minor continental nobleman. When she is absent from England at the time of her father's death, Matilda loses her throne to her cousin Stephen despite their ongoing and secret love affair.

For almost twenty years, anarchy reins, and their passion fluctuates between hatred and obsession. The only hope in sight is Matilda and Stephen's two sons, whose rightful claim to the throne may finally end the bloody and endless war.

In the vein of Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl, Matilda Empress follows the real history of the early English monarchs, and what happens when a strong woman at the center of great upheaval refuses to play by the rules laid out for her.

I am the Dowager Empress Matilda, twenty-four years old and a widow. I travel on a ship bound for England, my homeland. I enjoy the sensation of speed, and relish the early morning fog that surrounds me like a cloak. I always stand upwind from the crew’s stench and stretch my face into the gusts of fresh air that swell our sails and tangle my veil and braids. I inhale deeply of the brisk breeze, for it is the breath of our Heavenly Father. To keep my mind occupied, I chant the blessings of Christ: “Tranquility, amour, purity--discipline, strength, form--rule, custom, terminus--road, counsellor, foundation--heart, blaze, majesty--essence, lion of creation.”

Each day I scan the sky for the sea birds that will herald the coastline, as vultures are the harbingers of a corpse. Death and upheaval are two faces of the same coin. Cancer defeated my husband at Utrecht, revoking my whole future. If I had had a son, I would have reigned in his stead, during his minority. Instead, the Duke of Saxony is elevated to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire. Having turned over most of the imperial regalia, all but one seal, I am put forth on the ocean, to a new beginning. Although many forget my English origins, I do not aspire to wed any of the minor German princes who compete for my hand, as a means to remain in my adopted country. Neither do I wish to immure myself in any European convent, to spend the rest of my days outside the ebb and ow of all the world’s affairs.

Over the years, my father’s letters brought me the tragic tidings of the death of my mother, and then of my only legitimate brother, drowned in the English Channel. His Majesty remarried, in the hope of siring another legitimate son. Unfortunately, his second queen has not born any offspring. Lately, the king sleepwalks, troubled by nightmares. He dreams that his peasants desert their furrows and his barons their fortresses, part of some violent revolt; he alone takes the field to reclaim the peace. In truth, his power is well established, yet fears for the future security of his empire plague him.

Now that I return to my native land, His Majesty determines that I shall be queen of England and Normandy. His barons must accept his daughter, if he is to have no son. This new destiny suits my aspiring spirit. Educated to reign, I am well used to wielding authority. I will serve my father’s family, as I did my husband’s. I will be a splendid queen, worthy of praise.

Often, I am spellbound by the waves breaking tumultuously around the prow of the ship. Do their force and crash echo my inner strength? Will I be able to sail into my father’s kingdom, and claim my due? Behind the stern of our vessel, the sea has been flattened so that a white trail of foam stretches out behind us. Need I fear that I am not the boat, but the water, deflated, suppressed, made quiet again?

I berate my own ignorance of astrology, examining the stars in the wide sky above me, but unable to decipher the meaning of the patterns in the firmament. Instead, I count the calls of the swooping gulls, prognosticating my future wealth and fertility. I study the glistening entrails of netted fish presented to me by the rough deck hands, and try to interpret therein the likelihood of my glorious ascendance to the throne.

I do not have complete confidence in what is to come. For who am I? What is my worth? I am the Holy Roman empress; there is none who sits higher, or comes between me and the throne of heaven. But I am my father’s unmarried daughter, to be disposed of according to his will. I can walk among the English court with my head held aloft, with none daring to meet my eyes, and yet I resume my place as an ivory pawn upon King Henry’s chess set. On the other side of Europe, I dispensed the law with an iron st. And now I shall be forced to sheath my mail in silk and manipulation. My face is struck from the imperial coinage. I have lost my currency.

I am the Holy Roman empress, but my greatness tumbles overboard, into the abyss of the ocean. To the world, I am no one, a child, a head without a crown. I must remember that I am stripped of my honors. It will serve me no purpose to cling to my former status, to remember with pride that I was divine. This will be a hard lesson, that of renunciation. How swiftly shall I learn it?
Lise Arin has a PhD in English Literature from Columbia, and an undergraduate degree in History and Literature from Harvard. She has two children, and lives with her husband in New York City. This is her first novel, although it has been in the making for twenty years. 

- What are some of your pet peeves?
I have many pet peeves. As I live in a city, littering, spitting and graffiti all torment me on the regular. I go crazy when people talk during the movies, and now only watch things on my iPad, in the peace and quiet of my house, which means I am the last one to see the latest films. So worth it! Phone solicitations should be illegal, and I have had to unplug my landline to stop the incessant, jarring sound of the ring. When my children were small, there was no hell like the school bake sale or field trip chaperone duty. I am not a fan of the Band-Aid floating in the pool, whipped cream suffocating an otherwise lovely dessert or someone spraying smelly, unhealthy aerosol products in the gym locker room. I don’t like to ruin my outfit with a nametag, and prefer that no one offer to help me with my crossword puzzles. If someone tells me a piece of gossip, it had better be true. Typos threaten to unhinge me, especially when I discover them in my own work. I don’t like the meaningless, almost rhetorical question: “How are you?” when I don’t know the person well enough to answer truthfully. I’ve been truthful here ;)
Win a $20 Amazon gift card!
Follow the tour HERE for more content!

21 comments:

  1. Nice book cover and the book sounds interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very interesting costume on the cover. What was the inspiration for it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried to choose an image that was both historically suggestive of the middle ages but also appealing to our modern taste. Her epaulets look like chain mail, and her braids resemble a crown, but I'd be happy to wear that outfit!

      Delete
  3. Awesome excerpt! Thanks for sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The book cover is great and eye catching.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The cover looks awesome and goes with the title and story.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Her eyes! Sounds like a good read!
    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree! I hope my prose captures that expression ;)

      Delete
  7. Beautiful cover. The books sounds very intriguing. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  8. thanks for sharing and the great giveaway
    sherry @ fundinmental

    ReplyDelete
  9. The cover is enticing, especially with Matilda's eye gaze and the intricate collar topping her stiff dress.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I do hope that it entices people to read the book :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. What do you think of the book or the cover?

    Awesome cover! The colors are nice.

    THX

    ReplyDelete
  12. Interesting cover. It's definitely eye catching.

    ReplyDelete
  13. the outfit looks uncomfortable to wear.

    ReplyDelete