Why did I love this book?
Menewood is the sequel to Nicola Griffith’s novel Hild about the woman who would eventually become St. Hilda of Whitby.
Hardly anything is known about Hild before her thirties except for her parents and where she was born, and Griffith has imagined a densely detailed early life for her. I was fortunate enough to receive a review copy of Menewood and I loved it for the same reasons I loved Hild – Griffith’s absolute genius at creating a sense of time and place within the culture of seventh-century England.
That world comes alive, from the birds in the air to the winter floods to the tangled relations of Hild and her accumulated “family” in the valley of Menewood. Menewood brings us complicated, brave, arrogant, valiant, flawed characters I did not want to part with.
This second novel ends well before Hild actually enters the firm historical record, and so I am hoping for more of her story. It doesn’t matter whether the actual St. Hilda lived this imagined early life – Hild is wildly alive on these pages.