Salt Spring Reads is an online book club/review. For this column I try to find books that you might love to discover, books with a Salt Spring connection. Reviewed books are available at the Salt Spring Library and/or in local bookstores. Feel free to share your comments.
Zabel by Pearl Gray
The sub title of this book reads as follows: a warrior queen’s journey from the throne of Armenia to refuge in France.
Zabel’s father, King Leo, dies in lesser Armenia in the year 1050. Zabel inherits the throne as well as a scheming bishop as her advisor. The young Queen yearns for someone she can trust as she assumes her new role in a male dominated society. She marries a Crusader and she and her husband eventually get exiled to France.
This story reads like fiction but is actually based on nonfiction. After reading an essay on Zabel of Armenia, author Pearl Gray embarked on 11 years of research. She learned much about 12th century women and wove these facts into an engaging, unusual story. Gray traveled to both France and Armenia, learning more details about history and landscape. She also learned more about the history of women and those who held different ideas. She says “Female elders like Madame Noirfor in my novel, once had considerable power among the ancient tribes, but patriarchal religion and law gradually took it away from them, labeling them as witches. I suppose it was threatening [to the church] to have women turn to their herbs for healing rather than asking for God’s intervention. It was easier to rule a state with a homogeneous religion. In my story, Madame Noirfor is accused of being a witch because she
attended the winter solstice ceremony. Her property was confiscated and given to the person who accused her. It is estimated that over 100,000 women were burned at the stake in the late middle ages.”
About Margriet Ruurs
Margriet Ruurs is the author of over 30 books. Her upcoming next title is Stepping Stones, the story of a refugee family’s journey, a book that will benefit refugees. She runs Between The Covers Booklovers’ B & B on Salt Spring Island.