The Needle In The Blood

The Needle In The Blood

3.8 22
by Sarah Bower

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January 1067. Charismatic bishop Odo of Bayeux decides to commission a wall hanging, on a scale never seen before, to celebrate his role in the conquest of Britain by his brother, William, Duke of Normandy. What he cannot anticipate is how utterly this will change his life - even more than the invasion itself.

His life becomes entangled with the women who embroider


January 1067. Charismatic bishop Odo of Bayeux decides to commission a wall hanging, on a scale never seen before, to celebrate his role in the conquest of Britain by his brother, William, Duke of Normandy. What he cannot anticipate is how utterly this will change his life - even more than the invasion itself.

His life becomes entangled with the women who embroider his hanging, especially Gytha - handmaid to the mistress of the fallen Saxon king and Odo's sworn enemy. But against their intentions they fall passionately in love; in doing so Odo comes into conflict with his king and his God, and Gytha with Odo's enemies, who mistrust her hold over such a powerful man. Friends and family become enemies, enemies become lovers; nothing in life or in the hanging is what it seems.

'A story of love, war and the tangled truths of Britain's birth, crafted with as much care and skill as the famous tapestry at its heart.' Sarah Bryant, author of The Other Eden and Sand Daughter

'Truly compelling . . . so vivid, intriguing and masterfully portrayed.' Susan Fletcher

Product Details

Pan Macmillan (Bello)
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 1.25(d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Bower is a novelist and short story writer. Her short stories have appeared in magazines including QWF, Buzzwords and The Yellow Room.
She completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2002. She teaches creative writing at the University of East Anglia and for the Open University. She also works as a mentor and manuscript reader for leading literary consultancies.

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Needle in the Blood 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In reading other reviews, a common theme of "frustration" is expressed & after finishing this historical novel, I feel the same. Consider this an "Historic Lite" novel. It hovers around various figures in history: William of Normandy, his half-brother Odo, the Bayeux Tapestry. The plot centers on a forbidden romance between Bishop Odo and one of the tapestry embroiderers. It is enjoyable and well written, in comparison to the average romance novel. It does inspire curiosity in the reader to learn more about the Bayeux Tapestry. Where it can be frustrating is in the lack of information you are provided to sort out characters. A simple List of Characters (Norman & Saxon) would have been so helpful and a geneaology chart for the main historic figures. These would have made things more understandable, especially in the beginning were there are two Ediths, two Gythas...and you're left struggling to decipher which one is which. While the device of writing already in the middle of the situation can bring about a sense of suspense, the author's writing style became tiresomely confusing, killing any intrigue that might stem from characters suddenly talking about something or someone without any explanatory text of dialogue beforehand. Luckily, this only occurred in the first half of the book. For these minor frustrations, the author does inspire a compassionate regard for her main characters; it is not a book that you give up reading because of a few challenges along the way. While it starts out bumpy, the road smoothes out & you're left with a touching love story.
AngieJG More than 1 year ago
This novel was long. I disliked the characters in the beginning and grew to like them as the story progressed. However, I made the mistake of looking into this time period and the characters written in the book mid-way through reading. Once I found out that one of the main characters didn't exist, I shut down a bit. Yes, I know many historical fiction novels are fiction, some more than others. I personally enjoy historical novels that are as close to the history as possible. There are many out there that nearly spot on. I found the final 1/3 of the book a bit predictable and unbelievable. The ending fell flat for me. That all being said, I still give the novel a 4 star rating. It was well-written, kept my attention, and had me asking for more at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though to the timid the violence and sex in this book may seem gratuitous, in reality this was what life was like to many during this time period. There was not a sheltered damsel in need of convenient rescuing by a cleft chinned knight in shing armor on a valiant steed. Things were harsh but they were the way they are and there is no changing them. I think the author did a great job of capturing the time period. If you like your historical fiction with a touch of gritty realism, then this is the book for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Historical reads are my absolute favorite, whether fiction or non; therefore I couldn’t wait to read this book due to the high star review.  I, however, I found this book very disappointing.  Most times it was difficult to stay with  - very long and tedious, and at other times, it seemed to rush through, in my opinion, an important part so quickly I was left wondering what did I miss???   It was as if this book had two very different authors.  I struggled to finish, honestly wishing I didn’t bother. 
Melisan More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed Needle in the Blood by Sarah Bower and will look for other books she's written.   This seemed to me to be an accurate portrayal of the time period, and incorporated an engaging cast of characters to bring events to life.   The Bayeux Tapestry is the perfect device to tell the story of this time period.
MsDollie 6 months ago
I don't often give 5 stars but Needle in the Blood was that good. Characters were well developed and easy to empathize with. The story line captured my imagination ... the underlying love story was breath taking. The descriptions of scenes from the tapestry made me look into the actual tapestry further and enjoy the artwork more than I might have otherwise. Sarah Bower did herself proud with this novel: I hope there are more to come in this vein.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was enjoyable,but not so riveting I could not put it down. I felt like the characters lacked the developement to make this a really great read. With such a fascinating premise, the author could have done so much more. The ending was a cop out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A the beginning, but picked up with good characters and story. The ending didn't go the way I wanted it to go, and a bit abrupt. I would consider another book by this author.
addictedreaderSK More than 1 year ago
Good story, but sometimes inconsistent and the writing style could get cumbersome sometimes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was a little slow. I could not get into it. Had to skip around to finish it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting story about the beginning of England during the time of the Saxons and the Normans. The author has a talent for colorful descriptive writing. I couldn't put it down. Highly recommend this if you like historical fiction!
SuiteMary More than 1 year ago
I actually read this book a couple of years ago and thought it was amazing. I will warn, though, that there is some sexuality in the story. I am a needleworker myself which is what originally sparked my interest in the book. But the story is so much more!! Many layers, rich characters. Fantastic!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Waste of a 3 day weekend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is so good I love it
Humbee More than 1 year ago
Absolutely gorgeous book! In my other life, I'm a needlewoman. I love fine needlework, and have been embroidering, cross stitching and needlepointing alone and in Guilds for over 30 years. It's through needlework that I've had some of the most satisfying times of my life and made some of my most cherished friends. I know the intimacy and the terrors of handwork. I know the perils of making a mistake...blotting a piece of linen that's been so precious and so long stitched upon. Oh my goodness...I know the feeling of fine wool and needles, and the beauty of hand-dyed linen, silk and threads. And, I know the stories that tapestries tell. I know they tell more than the outward eye, or the untrained eye can tell. They hold secrets known only to the needle worker or those who have been intimately involved in the making of the tapestry...those who conceived of the design, created the pattern for the design, and those who worked the design itself. I know a misstep can cause a change in the intended design, or an extra stitch can cause a design to say or mean something else entirely. Such is the essence of "The Needle in the Blood." This is a novel that can't fail to intrigue you. I picked this one because I had an idea it had to do with stitching, but I had no idea it would be so engrossing. Sarah Bower is a gifted writer who has painstakingly rendered the warring's of a people, a Prince, a woman and man, religious life vs common life; and a tapestry of other things, into this large and wonderful book. It is a long book with over 500 pages. That's a show-stopper for many readers, but it never seemed that long a journey for me. Major characters such as: 1) Gytha, a maid-in-waiting in the fallen King Harold the Saxon's household, who becomes a central needlewoman working on the Bayeux Tapestry and the love interest of 2) Odo, the Earl and priest/brother of King William the Conqueror. Odo was the originator of 3) the Bayeux Tapestry, a character in and of itself. 4) Sister Jean/Agatha, the sister of King Willam and Earl Odo...nun, a woman of secret desires, artist who drew the scenes for the Tapestry that Odo described to her, 5) the needlewomen who worked on the Tapestry... and so many others. Absolutely fascinating stories interwoven amidst the history of the building of England during the 9th century. I loved all the details about the making of the Bayeux Tapestry, of course, but that wasn't the primary focus of the book. It was well balanced with the romance, actually, the very hot and exotic romance between Gytha and Odo; conflicted and inhibited sex and love is always so much better! And, the stories of all the figures involved in the making of the new society, the church, buildings and needlework were captivating. I was really drawn in by this book and found it difficult to stop thinking about even when I had to stop reading it to go on to other things and other reviews. Those who have a love of historical fiction at its finest, a love of needlework, a love of big books with lush stories such as Ken Follet's "The Pillars of the Earth," will love this book!