Friday, June 29, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway with Sandra Bryd author of The Secret Keeper

I'm thrilled to welcome Sandra Byrd to The Eclectic Reader and hope you enjoy her entertaining guest post. My review copy of The Secret Keeper didn't arrive in time for my review to be posted before Sandra's guest post. But it's here now *claps hands* and I'm excited to start on it; please keep an eye out for my review. 

Our Tudor Sisters
by Sandra Byrd

Historical novelists are sometimes suspected of importing twenty-first century values into sixteenth century novels. While it's true that most authors seek to connect their readers with their novel's women of the past, it isn't necessary to ascribe new values to past women. 

They valued education. Although medieval women's education was often limited to gentler feminine arts such as dance, needlework, and playing of the lute or virginals, by the beginning of the Tudor era women were much more interested and involved in intellectual education. Queen Catherine of Aragon ensured that her daughter, Mary, had a strict regimen of demanding studies in accordance with her own upbringing. Sir Thomas More is often credited with putting practice to the idea that non-royal women deserved as much education as noble or highborn men. His daughters undertook an education complete in classical studies,  languages, geography, astronomy, and mathematics. Queen Kateryn Parr's mother, Maude, educated her own daughters in accordance with More's program for his children, eventually running a kind of "school for highborn girls" after she was widowed. Eventually, educating  one's daughters was seen as a social necessity and men expected their wives to be able to play chess with them, discuss poetry and devotional works, and be conversant in the issues of the day.

They knew they couldn't marry for love - the first time - but desired it anyway.   Most historical readers understand that women in the Tudor era were chattel, legally controlled by their fathers and then their husbands. They married for dynastic or financial reasons; marriage was an alliance of families and strategy and not of the hearts. And yet, these women, too, had read Song of Songs wherein a husband and wife declare their passion for one another. Classically educated as they were, Tudor women had surely come across the Greek myths, including Eros and Psyche, and perhaps had even read the medieval French love poem, Roman de la Rose. If a woman was left widowed - and that happened quite often - she was free to remain widowed and under her own authority or to marry whom she wished. Henry VIII's sister Mary, married first King Louis XII of France, for duty.  When he died, she married Charles Brandon, for love.  After Mary's death, Brandon  married his ward, Katherine Willoughby, her duty. Later, she married Richard Bertie for love.

They were working women. High born women were often ladies in waiting to the queen, a demanding, full time job with little pay and time off. They ran the accounts for their husband's properties and juggled household management. Some highborn women, such as Lady Bryan, became governesses. Lower born women were lady maids, seamstresses, nurses, servants, or baby maids in addition to helping their husbands as fishmongers or in the fields. 
Although there are some notable differences, we have much more in common with our high born sisters of five hundred years ago than one may think!

To learn more about Sandra's Ladies in Waiting Series, set in Tudor England, please visit

About the author:
Sandra Byrd has published more than three dozen books in the fiction and nonfiction markets, including the first book in her Tudor series, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn.  Her second book, The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, illuminates the mysteries in the life of Henry's last wife.

For more than a decade Sandra has shared her secrets with the many new writers she edits, mentors, and coaches. She lives in the Seattle, Washington, area with her husband and two children. For more Tudor tidbits, please visit

The author of To Die For returns to the court of Henry VIII as a young woman is caught between love and honor.  Juliana St. John is the daughter of a prosperous knight. Though her family wants her to marry the son of her father's business partner, circumstances set her on a course toward the court of Henry VIII and his last wife, Kateryn Parr.

Sir Thomas Seymour, uncle of the current heir, Prince Edward, returns to Wiltshire to tie up his concerns with Juliana's father's estate and sees instantly that Juliana would fit into the household of the woman he loves, Kateryn Parr. Her mother agrees to have her placed in Parr's household for "finishing" and Juliana goes, though perhaps reluctantly.

For she knows a secret. She has been given the gift of prophecy, and in one of her visions she has seen Sir Thomas shredding the dress of the king's daughter, the lady Elizabeth, to perilous consequence.

As Juliana learns the secrets of King Henry VIII's court, she faces threats and opposition, learning truths about her own life that will undo everything she holds dear.

If you'd like to win a copy of The Secret Keeper just leave a comment with your email address. 

US/Canada ONLY  

+2 tweet giveaway and leave a link

Giveaway ends 20th July and the winner will be announced on my blog. Good luck everyone!

Tour Schedule:  Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours


  1. Very interesting post. Thanks for hosting!




  2. Thanks for the informative post. The book sounds very interesting, I like the fact that the main character is not a royal. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. Wow!! This sounds like a wonderful read! Thanks for the chance!!!

  4. THanks for the giveaway.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  5. Interesting guest post. I was not aware of some of the aspects of education and marriage for love that are included.

    For extra entries in the draw I tweeted a link to this post:


  6. I would love a chance to win this book. Thank you. I also tweeted this contest - here is the link -

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

  7. I don`t have a twitter account


  8. It looks like a story I would enjoy.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  9. Sounds like one I would enjoy!!!

  10. Sounds like a great read! I love to read anything that has to do with the Tudors!

  11. I like the sound of this... Thanks for the giveaway.
    mesreads AT

  12. This book has a lot of historical information on women's social lives. Every marriage seemed to be for duty. After the first husband dies, she is able to marry someone close to her age and for live. I'm interested in reading this book.


  13. Thank you for the information on the era. The book sounds great.

  14. Oh, I would love to win this one!
    stacybooks at yahoo

  15. I love all things Tudor! Thanks for the giveaway!


  16. Sounds like a very good book.
    Theresa N

  17. Thank you for hosting this giveaway.

    tweeted --

  18. Great guest post. I always appreciate background information before diving into a good historical novel.



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