Cathie Dunn writes historical fiction, mystery, and romance. The focus of her historical fiction novels is on strong women through time.
Cathie has been writing for over twenty years. She studied Creative Writing, with a focus on novel writing, which she teaches in the south of France. She loves researching for her novels, delving into history books, and visiting castles and historic sites.
At the moment, Cathie is working on two novels: Treachery, #2 in the House of Normandy series, about Sprota the Breton, handfasted wife of William Longsword, the son of Poppa and Rollo; and The Alchemist's Daughter, #2 in the Affair of the Poisons series. She also continues to plot a medieval murder mystery series set in 13th century Languedoc at the height of the Cathar persecutions.
Her stories have garnered awards and praise from reviewers and readers for their authentic description of the past.
Cathie is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Alliance of Independent Authors, and she organises historical fiction blog tours for The Coffee Pot Book Club.
After many years in Scotland, Cathie now lives in south of France with her husband, and rescued Charlie Cat and Ellie Dog. Discover more about Cathie at www.cathiedunn.com!
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A brutal Viking raid heralds the dawn of a new, powerful dynasty – the House of Normandy
Neustria, Kingdom of the West Franks
Fourteen-year-old Poppa’s life changes when Northmen land near Bayeux. Count Bérengar, her father, submits to them, and she is handfasted to Hrólfr, the Northmen’s heathen leader, as part of their agreement.
To her relief, Hrólfr leaves immediately in search of further conquest, only returning to claim her years later. In the face of retaliating Franks, they flee to East Anglia, where she gives birth to their son and daughter.
When Hrólfr and Poppa return to reclaim Bayeux, his new campaign strikes at the heart of Frankish power, and King Charles of the West Franks offers him a pact he cannot refuse. In exchange for vast tracts of land in Neustria, Hrólfr must convert to Christianity and accept marriage to Gisela, the king’s illegitimate daughter.
Poppa’s world shatters. She remains in Bayeux, with her daughter, Adela. When Gisela arrives one day, demanding she hand over Adela, to be raised in Rouen, Poppa’s patience is at an end. But Gisela makes for a dangerous enemy, and only one woman will survive their confrontation high up on the cliffs.
Will Poppa live to witness the dawn of a new era?
ASCENT is the first in a new series about the early women of the House of Normandy – women whose stories have been forgotten through time.
Readers of Viking and medieval fiction will enjoy ASCENT, a fictional account of the life of Poppa of Bayeux, handfasted wife of Rollo the Viking.
House of Normandy
Book Excerpt or Article
Easter Sunday, April 12th, AD 890
Bayeux, Neustria, Kingdom of the West Franks
Poppa wriggled her toes. They’d become numb inside her tightly laced boots during the endless sermon that followed the earlier procession across town. Keeping still for so long was simply not for her. Around her, the congregation stood in silence; people kept their gaze downcast, as if contemplating the Father Peter’s words. But none of them understood a word, and she forced herself to hold back a giggle when she heard the odd snore. Now, she sighed again as Father Peter droned on in Latin. Only recently had Poppa begun her lessons in the dead language, and on the rare occasion when she recognised a word, it gave her no inkling of what the priest was talking about. Obviously, he was reading from the Holy Scriptures, and it must be something important. But if there was indeed a message in his ramblings, its meaning escaped her.
The celebration of the Easter feast – the most important event of the Christian year – was always a solemn occasion, as befitted Christ’s death and resurrection. She knew that. But after the third of the nine Kyrie Eleisons that opened the mass, Poppa’s thoughts had begun to drift. Like everyone else, she recited and intoned when prompted, but she much rather wanted to meet with her friend, Landina, by the water mill on the edge of town. The stream and the meadows were like heaven, unlike this crowded church where not even the cloying incense could not hide the stench of so many unwashed bodies.
Where were they, anyway? She cast glances to either side of her, but saw neither her friends nor their father, the miller. Perhaps they were behind her. Briefly, she considered turning around, but Father’s rigid stance changed her mind. Huffing, she shifted her weight to the other foot and winced at the tingling in her toes.
“Shh!” Father sent her a dark glance through lowered eyelids. He took sermons seriously, and his strong faith was the main reason she studied boring Latin with Father Peter.
Poppa knew Father was in part fulfilling Mother’s dying wish by providing her with a religious education. Mother had wanted for her to join a convent. But Poppa also knew that she – as the only daughter of Count Bérengar of Bayeux – would soon become an important marriage pawn. The notion filled her with trepidation. On her fourteenth birthday, Father broached the subject for the first time, indicating there were several potential suitors for her in mind. She’d been praying Ranulf was amongst them, but his family were far below her own in station. Her hopes faltered, even though Father had promised to heed her opinion.
He indulged her, that was all. Then he would follow through with his plans. Much to her annoyance, he’d mentioned names of several men at the Frankish court. Men or boys of noble birth, all of them. Resigned, Poppa’s heart had sunk.
Her childish snort at his pledge was drowned out by a loud “Alleluia!” from the gathered crowd. Swiftly, she followed Father’s lead and crossed herself, else he would chide her for her straying mind.
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Teri M Brown