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Could he ever be unfaithful?

For a while I was trying to update this blog once a week. But then I got sidetracked during my monumental editing process earlier in the year. For all of July I've been in the midst of renovating our kitchen. Now I finally have time to get this blog back on track. I think.

Unfortunately, the kitchen renovation was a bit stressful. To escape, I read books instead of writing. I went back to my roots and read some historical medieval English and Welsh novels, all by Sharon Kay Penman. I started with Lionheart, and then moved on to Here Be Dragons. I'm currently working on Falls the Shadow. The first book was about Richard I, and the second was was about Llewelyn, Prince of Wales. I found both books to be riveting. Richard I is an interesting character because it was speculated that he was gay. In Here Be Dragons, Penman indicated such. She says that while researching for Lionheart she became skeptical. I've always been curious about it, so I've purchased a book by Norah Lofts called The Lute Player, also about Richard I, because apparently she does portray him as gay. We'll see. Falls the Shadow has Henry III as a main character, and since I included him in The King's Heart, I want to finish that book first.

In any case...infidelity.

Llewelyn married Joanna, the bastard daughter of King John (he became king after Richard I). Penman doesn't write romance novels, they tend to be fairly accurate portrayals of history. But in Here Be Dragons, she did spend a lot of time building on the romance between Llewelyn and Joanna. Theirs was a turbulent relationship. I'll spare you all the "boring" details (which were fascinating to me) and cut right to the chase. Toward the end of the book, Joanna was unfaithful to Llewelyn during a time when they were estranged. Eventually he found out in a most hideous way, and my heart broke for both of them as I read the book. The truly surprising thing is that he ended up forgiving her.

When I read books I get very involved with the characters. I grieved for Llewelyn and Joanna. I kept thinking, "How could you do it Joanna? He'll NEVER forgive you!" I sort of made myself sick thinking about it. At one point some of the lesser characters have a conversation about infidelity, and they say it's okay (during the time period) for a man to be unfaithful, but not for a woman because if a woman sleeps with another man there will be no way to tell who the children belong to, if any are born. And during medieval times there were no sure-fire birth control methods, not to mention the fact that any sex that was not for the purpose of procreation was a sin.

So, that brings me to The King's Heart. I meant for Christopher to be unfaithful during the story. There is a part in the book where Christopher has gone to London for King Henry's grand council. Dafydd does not accompany him. While he's there he meets up with an old flame, Nicolas. It was my plan that Christopher would spend a night in Nicolas's bed, only to regret it the next morning. As I got right up to that part of the story I realized I couldn't do it, and Christopher ends up spurning the advances that Nicolas makes. Of course, Dafydd still "sees" the encounter in a dream and ends up misunderstanding the vision. After I read the turmoil that Llewelyn and Joanna went through, I was so glad I stopped myself from putting Christopher and Dafydd through the same thing.

As an aside, I know that many people think Christopher *was* unfaithful to Dafydd when he slept with Marged. I'm not going to open that whole can of worms again beyond saying *that* was different, and even though Christopher came to love Marged, she would never be a replacement for Dafydd, and she was a duty he had to perform. Again, I depicted it as a loving relationship to build his character as that of a caring person.

One additional thing. Dafydd is the Welsh version of the English name David. It was suggested to me during the editing phase of The King's Heart that it was brave to use this name, and not just convert it to English. Well, I didn't want to convert it because Dafydd was Welsh. I found in reading Penman's books that many times the Welsh converted English names to Welsh, and vice versa. For example, on of Llewelyn's chief councilors married an English woman named Catherine, but called her Catrin ever after. When Llewelyn marries Joanna he wants to call her Siwan, the Welsh translation of Joan...she refuses, and he understands because when his own mother married an Englishman and her name was changed from Marared to Margaret, Llewelyn himself didn't like it.

I mention this because Llewelyn and Joanna have a son, and they name him Davydd. I was puzzled at the spelling because I can't find that listed as a Welsh name. In the author's note she explains that it's a bastardized spelling of Dafydd that she thought people would better accept than Dafydd. Interesting.

I'm hoping I'll be able to d-stress soon and get back to writing.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 16th, 2012 03:06 am (UTC)
Infidelity seems to be a deal breaker for some romance readers. It's a pity because it's such a deep vein for conflict and the reconciliation can be all the sweeter.

Names, specifically Welsh names, are a trial. I'm trying to write a story based on the Gododdin and at times it seems as though half the characters names begin with Cyn. I'm getting complaints from the Six Sentence Sunday folks so I think I'll have to streamline them a bit.

Good luck with the destressing.
Jul. 16th, 2012 11:45 am (UTC)
That's interesting, because another thing Penman notes is similarity of names. When writing actual history, as she did in Lionheart, she was confronted with 3 characters with very similar names, just different "translations" of them: Geoffrey, Joffroi, and Jaufre. On top of that, royals had the irritating habit of reusing names. Richard I had a brother John, John named an illegitimate son Richard, then he named a legitimate son Richard. So confusing!

As for the infidelity, Llewelyn did end up forgiving Joanna...and that scene where that happened was wonderfully wrought with passion.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )