My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My thanks to Heather Day Gilbert for letting me read an ARC of this, her debut novel. As someone who has studied the Northmen of Nordweg, I appreciated seeing a different set of the vikingr in her book.
God’s Daughter is a story of Gudrid, a strong Christian woman in a time when Christianity was just making itself felt as a significant influence against the Northern Way. The present tense, first person narrative leaves us with just Gudrid’s perspective to go on as we experience hardship, life, weakness, and death and that was – for me, anyway – not my favorite experience. Still, Gudrid’s heart is laid bare to the reader and that is important.
She is a Christian, but she is thankfully not perfect. She has flaws of what would likely be considered a serious, moral nature. There are “too many men” in her life, and this remains a constant theme throughout the book. Additionally, she is dishonest with her husband in matters dealing with his business and trade goods. Her early life experiences have left her with weaknesses that could have landed her in a lot of trouble.
But, she is more than just her weaknesses. Seeing Gudrid come to a better appreciation for and commitment to her husband was a relief. He is a worthy man, and he deserves a wife who isn’t obsessing over other men. Her gradual growth in this area was well-written. She is a healer, with a certain affinity for animals. Her ties to powerful people assure her stature and rank, and she knows well how to do what is right for others.
This is a work of Christian fiction, with the aspects of faith displayed but not in a heavy manner. Gudrid acknowledges her lack of knowledge in this area, but her faith in God is clear throughout. She shares her faith from her position of strength without making it a “deal breaker” in any of the interpersonal relationships she has with the others in the trading group. It’s very honest and real to read through her mind.
Recommended for those who want to reconnect with people they’ve read about in the Sagas of these Northern people, for those who are interested in possible interpersonal dynamics that shaped greater events in the Viking progression and settlement, and for fans of Christian historical fiction who enjoy seeing their faith enacted in the lives of others.