Sunday, 15 November 2015

Saint Margaret of the Textiles

The other day I laughed myself silly over a delicious review-rant my friend Suzannah Rowntree posted on Goodreads.

To celebrate Queen Margaret of Scotland's traditional feast day today, I'm sharing it with you (with her gracious permission).

The Unveiling (Age of Faith, #1)The Unveiling by Tamara Leigh
Suzannah's rating: 1 of 5 stars

Every now and again I'll think, "I wonder what the kids are reading these days," and off I'll go to download and read one of the titles I've heard of. Sometimes this has been rewarding, and other times...

Well, other times I'll find myself lying awake grinding my teeth over a clean Christian medieval romance novel... which isn't very clean, isn't very Christian, and is only selectively medieval.

The most galling thing about this particular novel was something rather odd, something that would hardly bother most people. And so, for a while, I tried to hold in my irritation. But some wounds don't heal with time and the end of it is that I MUST SPEAK.

There's seriously some kind of anti-textile bias going on here. The heroine is a modern-style warrior chick, so pretty soon she collides with typical (and totally reasonable) medieval attitudes about women's work. And she's like,


Queen Margaret of Scotland, an actual medieval woman who would make the heroine of this book look like a total fusspot, would be facepalming so hard you could hear it in Norway.

When Margaret arrived in Scotland, basically nobody knew how to do anything with a needle except jam it into the eyesocket of whoever was currently cheesing them off. So, of course, their castles pretty much looked like this:

Except that shortly after Margaret arrived, they began looking like this instead:

When Margaret entered Scotland, she was greeted by a wild warrior king and a bunch of blokes who looked like something out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

But pretty soon they looked more like this:

Tradition even credits Margaret with introducing TARTAN to Scotland. Which means that next time you see David Tennant wearing a kilt, youíll know who to thank.

Thank you, Queen Margaret, for not thinking needlework somehow beneath you.

At about the same time Margaret was giving the entire nation of Scotland a makeover, an abbey of nuns in France were hard at work stitching one of the most important visual historical sources in the history of the world.

So that without the Bayeux Tapestry, we wouldn't know half of what we know today about armour, weaponry, and fighting tactics of the late eleventh century.

Meanwhile, the heroine of this novel wishes she could do something important with her life, IE, running around with the blokes waving swords and stuff.

Burning down castles full of priceless tapestries, for instance.

Slaughtering and carrying off talented textile workers from peaceful communities.

And you donít even want to know how much time and effort went into making Thomas a Becket's cope. It was never the same after he was martyred.

So basically, darling, unless youíd rather get around in an outfit consisting entirely of strategically-placed twigs...

...grow up and learn to enjoy using a needle.

View all Suzannah's reviews