Female powerlessness meets the Father’s love in medieval Wales
‘I found Efa’s growing spirituality and gentle responses to those around her challenging, and was rivetted to the story.’
Claire Musters, writer, speaker, editor and host of the Woman Alive Book Club
The Bride’s leading lady, Efa, may be a noble woman, but she is as subject to the whims of the powerful men who surround her as any peasant might be. Thrust into a marriage she did not choose, and made mother to three neglected children, she is deserted by the man she loved and forced to leave all she knows behind. But could there be a deeper love and belonging for her to discover than those that have been forcibly taken from her?
This is Joy Margett’s third novel in a companion series set among the monasteries and verdant landscapes of thirteenth-century Wales, following The Healing and The Pilgrim. Through her relatable and inspirational protagonist, Efa, and several supporting female characters, Joy brings the medieval world alive and explores what it was like to be a young woman in a time so very different from our own. Yet common themes of identity and purpose emerge, and the way in which Efa especially responds to these challenges gives us cause to reflect on how we handle difficulties in our own lives.
Joy comments, ‘Of all my books, Efa’s story perhaps resonates most closely with my own, not least because she is my first female protagonist. I have experienced heartbreak, felt unloved and unlovable, unsure of my own worth and purpose. Of course these things aren’t unique to women, but in the time that my books are set, when women really had little control over their lives, it was easy to create believable scenarios where the decisions of others stole not only love, but personal choice and purpose from Efa’s life.’
Given the medieval setting, and the fundamental role played by monasteries in society at that time, questions of faith feel easy and natural to discuss, in a way that a contemporary novel can struggle to do. As the story unfolds, unexpected friendships introduce Efa to a different kind of love to that she has lost, to a God who promises to turn her painful betrayal into joy-filled belonging. Journeying alongside her, we are alike invited to open our hearts to Him, to see wounds healed, relationships restored and more lives than our own transformed if only we will look to Him.
‘Like Efa, I have also experienced the pursuing love of God,’ says Joy. ‘He does not want us to stay feeling heartbroken, unloved and purposeless. Efa learns, as I did, that He longs to both embrace us as Father, and to woo us as His bride, if we will open our hearts to Him. My hope is that Efa’s story encourages others to find healing for their hearts in the love that God offers.’
When changing circumstances leave Efa adrift and without purpose, yet with an agency she could never have dreamt of, can she trust God for another place of belonging? And when her past invades the present, will love’s promises hold true?
‘A page turner, but also a place to rest for a while and soak in beautifully written words that will remind you of your own true value. I warmly recommend it.’
Liz Carter, author of Valuable and Catching Contentment
The Bride by Joy Margetts (ISBN: 9781912726752) is published by Instant Apostle and is available on 20th October 2023 from bookshops and online retailers. Fiction, paperback, 272pp, £11.99.