Friday, July 20, 2012

Better Than Fiction Guest Post: Heather Day Gilbert

Today we have Heather Day Gilbert guest-posting on the love story in her own historical fiction novel, God's Daughter. God's Daughter is based on the life of Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir, the first European woman to have a baby on North American soil. Heather has creatively decided to write what Gudrid's husband, Thorfinn ("Finn" in the book) Karlsefni, thinks of his courageous wife.

The Words of Thorfinn Karlsefni, World-trader and Leader of the Viking expedition to the New Lands, Straumsfjord and Vinland (Newfoundland). His Thoughts on his Wife, Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir.
 Sometimes I don’t think my wife realizes how much she means to me. No other Viking woman has ever sailed with her husband so far. Well, her sister-in-law Freydis did travel with us to Straumsfjord, but she hardly came along to support her husband. Freydis came along to avenge her brother’s murder by the natives here.
Gudrid’s beauty surpasses any woman I’ve seen, and I’ve traded as far as Constantinople. Her eyes are sea-glass green, and her hair is yellow like sunlight, not colorless like most Icelanders’. Despite her beauty, she’s unaware of her effect on men—all the men in this camp, in very fact. I should have listened to Leif and left her behind in Greenland. But that would’ve meant I had to leave her with Leif…and he has his own reasons for keeping Gudrid nearby.

 Gudrid, unlike Freydis, demands respect without trampling over everyone to get it. My wife knows when to hold her tongue, and when to speak up with all her authority as a chieftain’s daughter. Even though she turned her back on paganism, rejecting her training to become high volva, people admit that Gudrid’s God is more powerful than Thor, or even Odin. The One True God, she calls him. The Christ.
For a woman with a soft heart, Gudrid’s backbone is strong. How her eyes glowed like the fire, those winter nights she bested me at King’s Table in Greenland! She listened to me dream and plot our trip to the new lands, even knowing her second husband died in such a quest for plunder. Even knowing she was with child.

 Death is no stranger to Gudrid. She lost her own mother in a pagan sacrifice—a sacrifice her chieftain father ordered. Her first husband, drunken fool that he was, wrecked their ship off the coast of Greenland, then promptly died of an illness.
And now, death crouches for us outside our very camp. The native Skraelings trade with us, all the while watching our weapons and plotting to kill us. I must leave for Vinland, to find our plunder so we can justify our travels. But Gudrid will have to stay behind at Straumsfjord, since Freydis can’t be moved—her baby is coming too early. Even though I’ve chosen only the most trustworthy men to guard the women, I curse myself for taking advantage of Gudrid’s love and bringing her here.

 I still wonder if she chose me from all her suitors simply because I was the wealthiest. But sometimes there’s a look in her eyes, as if her heart is closed to everyone but me. I’m no stranger to leading men, but leading such a willing, perfect woman is somehow the heavier duty.
I thought women loved to talk, but not my Gudrid. She doesn’t waste words. And now I fear an illness has crept into her heart. Sadness wraps her like a cloak and makes her sleep later and later, our young son almost invisible to her. If only she would tell me her fears, I swear I would give my life to heal her once and for all.

Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir is the main character in God’s Daughter, Heather’s historical fiction novel rooted in the Icelandic sagas. Gudrid was the first European woman to have a baby on North American soil. You can find out more at Heather’s blogspot:, or at her FB page: She’d also love to chat on twitter @vikingwritergal. She has a God’s Daughter inspirational pinboard on Pinterest here:

**If you have an idea for a Friday "Better Than Fiction: Real Historical Romance Tales" Feature, visit this post for criteria and submission details.**


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