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Blog Tour and Book Excerpt for "The Dartington Bride"


The Dartington Bride blog tour poster

Book Title: The Dartington Bride

Series: Daughters of Devon

Author: Rosemary Griggs

Publication Date: 28th March 2024

Publisher: Troubador Publishing

Page Count: ~ 368 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

 


"The Dartington Bride" by Rosemary Griggs cover

The Dartington Bride

Rosemary Griggs

Audiobook narrated by Rosemary Griggs

 

1571, and the beautiful, headstrong daughter of a French Count marries the son of the Vice Admiral of the Fleet of the West in Queen Elizabeth’s chapel at Greenwich. It sounds like a marriage made in heaven...

 

Roberda’s father, the Count of Montgomery, is a prominent Huguenot leader in the French Wars of Religion. When her formidable mother follows him into battle, she takes all her children with her.

 

After a traumatic childhood in war-torn France, Roberda arrives in England full of hope for her wedding. But her ambitious bridegroom, Gawen, has little interest in taking a wife.

 

Received with suspicion by the servants at her new home, Dartington Hall in Devon, Roberda works hard to prove herself as mistress of the household and to be a good wife. But there are some who will never accept her as a true daughter of Devon.

 

After the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, Gawen’s father welcomes Roberda’s family to Dartington as refugees. Compassionate Roberda is determined to help other French women left destitute by the wars. But her husband does not approve. Their differences will set them on an extraordinary path...

 

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Author Bio:

 


Rosemary Griggs author photo

Author and speaker Rosemary Griggs has been researching Devon’s sixteenth-century history for years. She has discovered a cast of fascinating characters and an intriguing network of families whose influence stretched far beyond the West Country and loves telling the stories of the forgotten women of history – the women beyond the royal court; wives, sisters, daughters and mothers who played their part during those tumultuous Tudor years: the Daughters of Devon.

Her novel A Woman of Noble Wit tells the story of Katherine Champernowne, Sir Walter Raleigh’s mother, and features many of the county’s well-loved places.

Rosemary creates and wears sixteenth-century clothing, a passion which complements her love for bringing the past to life through a unique blend of theatre, history and re-enactment. Her appearances and talks for museums and community groups all over the West Country draw on her extensive research into sixteenth-century Devon, Tudor life and Tudor dress, particularly Elizabethan.

Out of costume, Rosemary leads heritage tours of the gardens at Dartington Hall, a fourteenth-century manor house and now a visitor destination and charity supporting learning in arts, ecology and social justice.

 

Author Links:

 


Book Excerpt:


Chapter Seven

Betrothal

Spring 1571

 

In the month of May, as nodding bluebells carpeted our orchards, Sir Arthur Champernowne came to Ducey. He came alone.

I waited on the doorstep behind my parents as the red-faced Englishman dismounted and swaggered between the ranks of the soldiers Alain du Bois had drilled into a guard of honour.

‘But where is his son?’ I faltered, my voice no more than a breath. ‘Where is Gawen Champernowne? Where is the man I am to wed? The man I must serve till the end of my days?’

‘Hush,’ Maman hissed.

‘But, Maman! Can’t he even find the time to attend his own betrothal?’ My stomach was clenched into a ball and it was a struggle to keep my voice down. ‘Is it really to be a betrothal without a bridegroom?’

‘We still have a lot to discuss with Sir Arthur,’ Maman whispered over her shoulder. ‘Your father would have the wedding in England in the presence of the English queen.’

I choked back a little bark of laughter. I had always known that I would be bait in a trap to secure a wealthy husband who would bring lands and fortune to my family, or a military alliance to defeat our foes. That was the lot of all well-born girls. But my parents were setting a snare to catch bigger game, royal game. They hoped to use my marriage to the son of the Vice Admiral of the Fleet of the West to secure Queen Elizabeth’s support for the wars of religion in France.

I felt my fingernails digging into my palms and my throat hurt as I gulped down angry tears. But I had been well schooled from birth. As Sir Arthur reached the steps, kissed my mother’s hand and made his bow to me, I turned on my brightest smile. The corners of my mouth ached with the effort of it and inside I was seething. But I dipped a respectful curtsey and smiled sweetly as I raised my eyes to study the face of the man who might soon be my father-in-law.

In his youth Sir Arthur must have been a handsome man. A faint echo of the gorgeous Henry Champernowne lingered in what must once have been finely chiselled features and a head held high. His abundant brown hair, swept back from a lofty forehead, showed only a trace of grey near the ears. I was cheered to see a crinkled map of laughter lines around his eyes; he must be a man of generally good humour. But for all that I thought I could detect a hint of sorrow, something world-weary, in the striking blue eyes Sir Arthur fixed on me.

‘Mademoiselle Gabrielle,’ he said in excellent French. ‘The reports of your beauty hardly do you justice. My son will be a lucky man indeed to have you at his side.’ The look he gave me said more than the gallant, courtly remark. I knew I must accept it. This was the way of our world. A girl like me must expect to be appraised as if she was a prize mare.

I murmured the appropriate response then, on a whim, added ‘Sir! It would give me pleasure if you would call me Roberda, as my family do.’ Maman looked at me askance but Sir Arthur smiled and nodded.

I followed the party inside and the Englishman accepted a glass of Papa’s finest red wine. I stepped back and watched the show of bonhomie unfold. Sir Arthur Champernowne cut a fine figure, dressed to impress, throwing back his wine and laughing with Papa. I hid a little smile behind my hand. His fine black velvet doublet was strained across an ample girth. It was quite apparent that Sir Arthur Champernowne didn’t need to add much padding to achieve a stylish peascod belly.

My parents spared no expense. The tastiest dishes our kitchen could offer were served on silver platters. We drank fine wine from exquisite Venetian glassware. Gilles, Suzette and little Gabriel all appeared dressed in their best. Jacques and Gedeon, recalled to lend their presence to the festivities, talked about ships and arms and battles with Sir Arthur. When his nephew Henry was mentioned I saw a shadow cross Sir Arthur’s face.

Pierre accompanied me as I sang a French chanson. My protégé had moved on from the fife and was accomplished on many instruments, but especially the lute. A truly gifted musician, Pierre; you could tell he felt the music in his very soul. He ended our duet with a flourish of top notes and I looked up.

‘Bravo! Bravo!’ cried Sir Arthur, clapping his hands together. ‘That’s reminded me of happy times at the Court House in Modbury. My father kept a fine troop of musicians there. You sing well, mademoiselle, and the boy plays well. Perhaps, if your father will allow, he may come to England with you when you become Gawen’s wife? His music would be welcome in our hall at Dartington.’ Now that would be a fine thing, I thought, for I will have but few friendly faces about me in that foreign place.

As the evening shadows lengthened Sir Arthur was shown to the best chamber and I spent a fitful night full of fears for my future with the as-yet-unknown Gawen.

Next day we rode to the hunt – another opportunity to show me off as a potential bride. I must admit I cut quite a dash with a new saddlecloth sent from Paris which meant I could ride side-saddle just like Queen Catherine.

Papa’s huntsman ensured that a fine stag appeared well within bowshot, and Sir Arthur loosed his arrow and found the mark. It was, of course, courteous to allow our guest the privilege of taking his prize, but I always felt a tug of sorrow to see such a noble beast fall. I looked away as the stag was dispatched and stowed on the pack pony. As we made our way homewards, Jacques and Gedeon were loud in their congratulations so I pushed on to get a little distance between us. But as I walked my horse beneath the beech trees a smiling Sir Arthur trotted up and drew his mount alongside mine.

‘It’s good to see that you ride so well and enjoy the hunt,’ he exclaimed with real warmth in his voice. ‘At Dartington, where it is my hope you will enjoy many happy years with Gawen, we have a well-stocked deer park. You will be able to hunt as often as you please.’ I merely nodded, realising I knew nothing of the home where I might soon be mistress. Maman had been there but she’d told me little of what lay in store for me. My mind raced through wild images of the sort of place it might be. As if he read my thoughts, Sir Arthur continued.

‘Dartington was built for the half-brother of a king. In his day John Holland had one of the grandest, one of the largest halls in all England. Of course that was many years ago. But you’ll sit in that great hall built to entertain royalty. And in case you’re worried it’s old fashioned, Mary and I added new chambers and laid out pleasure gardens. It’s a pretty spot, high above the River Dart and surrounded by our green Devon hills. I’m sure you’ll be happy at Dartington.’

‘Sir,’ said I, emboldened by his kindness. ‘I have not yet met your son. Will he come here to meet me while you come to agreement with my parents?’

Sir Arthur regarded me solemnly as if weighing up his options.

‘He is on the sea, doing our queen’s work. Even as we speak he is entrusted to carry a letter from the Queen of Navarre to Queen Elizabeth,’ he answered at last. ‘He’s a fine boy. You will do well together.’ The last was said with such determination as if by saying it out loud he could make it so. My worries were certainly not set at rest.


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1 Comment


Thanks so much for hosting Rosemary Griggs today, with an excerpt from The Dartington Bride.


Take care,

Cathie xx

The Coffee Pot Book Club

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