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Monday, September 29, 2008

Susan Fraser King (Lady Macbeth) at the Baltimore Book Festival

(You can read my other posts about the Baltimore Book Fest here and here.)

It was a VERY rainy day in Baltimore; unfortunately for the authors, that meant very few people in the audience for their talks. I sort of stumbled upon this author on Saturday afternoon. She was speaking in a tent that I was passing. The name of the book, Lady Macbeth, seemed familiar to me so I wandered in (plus it got me out of the rain).

Author Susan Fraser King had already introduced her book and explained what it was about, so I was a bit out of the loop (although the title is a huge clue). I was in time to hear her read from the prologue though, and that video is posted below.

A bit about the book ...

Here's the summary from the author's website:
LADY MACBETH by Susan Fraser King takes readers into the heart of eleventh-century Scotland, painting a vivid picture of Gruadh, the last female descendant of the country's most royal line. Married, pregnant, then quickly widowed, she is forced to wed her husband's murderer, the warlord Macbeth. Determined to protect her interests and those of her infant son, she vows to preserve her family's legacy at any cost.
I took lots of notes during Ms. King's talk. I'll share them in bullet form, since my notes are a bit disjointed.
  • Macbeth and his wife were married for 25 years, and ruled for 17 years. Although she had children from her first marriage (Macbeth killed her husband then married her), she and Macbeth never had children together. Despite that, he never put her aside even though it was his right (since she hadn't produced an heir for him). Instead he named her son from her first marriage as his heir.

  • Macbeth went off to Rome (how long that must have taken in those days is beyond me!) and left his wife in charge; she must have been a very strong regent for him to do this.

  • I don't know much (anything!) about Shakespeare's play Macbeth, but according to Ms. King Lady Macbeth "is not about the Shakespeare, but there are historical events where the two meet."

  • On the topic of Shakespeare, someone asked why he took so many liberties with the facts when writing his Macbeth. Ms. King explained that the new King was James I of Scotland, and the English people disliked him immensely. Some scholars say that Shakespeare's intention with Macbeth was to create another Scottish monarch who was SO BAD that James would look good by comparison.

I was interested in knowing how long it took to research and write this book. Ms. King explained that she has a background in academia (you can read about it on her website) which helped in greatly in her research. From the time she began gathering her facts to the time she submitted her final draft was two-and-half years. Being a stickler for facts, I was pleased to know that she sent her draft to a professor of Celtic and Medieval Studies at Penn State and asked him to correct any errors in it. Yeah for fact-checking!

I hope you enjoy Ms. King reading from Lady Macbeth ...

Have you heard of this book before? Is it one you want to read?


Lezlie said...

I have the audiobook of Lady Macbeth on my shelf as we speak! I'm hoping to get to it as soon as I finish listening to Portrait of an Unknown Woman.

I wondered if I should read Shakespeare's Macbeth before this, but from your notes it looks likes I won't have to do that. Yippee!


Heather J. said...

I can't wait to hear what you think of it. Based on the author's comments, I'd think that reading/watching the play AFTER the book might be good. It would certainly allow you to compare the two while having a basis in the actual historical events.

Kristin said...

It sounds fascinating. I just reserved it at my local library.

Yati said...

Oh! I've just finished a book called King Hereafter about Macbeth by Dorothy Dunnett. Except that in that novel, Dunnett puts forward the idea that Earl Thorfinn II of Orkney and King Macbeth is the same person. We get to see his wife (called Groa in this version) quite a bit in the book.

And the trip to Rome took forever! My eyes glazed a few times while trying to sort out the bishops, some with unpronounceable names, but it was a really, really good read. No one packs as much detail into the pages as DD does. Maybe I'll check out this book too.

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