28 Jun 2022


 One of several bloggers who over 10 days will be participating in this Blog Tour. Today {the 2nd day of the Tour) its my pleasure to be sharing my thoughts on ...


​Genre ...  Historical fiction

Publication Date ... 16th June 2022

Standalone Novel

Estimated Page Count ... 412

There is no me; there is no you.

There is only us.’

The Maids of Biddenden is inspired by the real-life story of conjoined twins Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, born in 1100 into a wealthy family from a small Kent village.

Joined at the hip, the sisters overcome fear and hostility to grow into gifted and much-loved women ­– one a talented musician and song-writer, the other a caring healer and grower of medicinal plants. Entangled in the struggles for power and influence of the great Kent nobles of the time, they achieve much in their lifetimes and leave behind a legacy in Biddenden that survives to this day.

This is the heart-warming and inspirational story of two remarkable women leading one joint life, challenging adversity to become the best they can be. ... Blog Tour Blurb/Back Cover Blurb

Avicia knelt and prayed. ... First Sentence, Chapter One; 1106

'I will not be spoken to thus by a woman, even if she is my wife. The Maids are part of me, and I confessed their existence to you before we became bethrthrobed. I will not be their murderer. If you do not understand that, then I do not recognise the woman I love. Many a cotter's daughter would be happy to live in a sunken hut and plough her own fields.'

It was the first time Thomas had ever reminded Gudun of her background, and the sting of the words shocked her out of her rage. She went limp on the floor, her hands covering her face as sobs racked her body. Thomas stood over her, standing stock-still, his jaw set in stern determination. The sobs subsided into sporadic whimpers. ... Memorable Moment, Page 6/65

The story of the Biddenden sisters; conjoined twins who, born in 1100, grow into gifted and much-loved women, one a talented musician and song-writer, the other a caring healer and grower of medicinal plants!

OOH! One of those books that had me hopping from foot to foot {figuratively speaking of course} in sheer excitement, what a great premise.

Whilst I remember reading an account of conjoined  brothers, Chang and Eng Bunker, who, born in 1811, 711 years after the Biddenden twins, were supposedly the original "Siamese twins", I can't remember ever reading a novel featuring conjoined twins which made The Maids Of Biddenden a refreshing read. That its  based on real-life twins, the author telling their, the twin's, story at the back of the book', something of an eye-opener.

The sights, the sounds, the clothes, the customs, the blind faith in king and church, transported back to the 12th century, it all felt authentic; the superstitions of the people as you would have imagined, the hostility, the disdain with which the girls were treat, the village priest's belief that the they were either a punishment from God/product of the devil all too believable. 

And yet for all of that, the chapters told from multiple points of view {mainly one or other of the twins, Mary Or Eliza, though there is an occasional insight from nun Sister Agnes, or the twin's father or step-mother}, the writing is contemporary, simplistic and lacking in lyrical prose, the plot unencumbered by flowery language which made for easy reading.

The sisters, girls who are as physically close to each other as its possible for any two human beings to be and yet have quite different personalities, likes and dislikes; the author seemingly having covered every aspect of the difficulties {and joys} of being a conjoined twin in a tale that cannot fail to pull at the heartstrings ... 

Will the maids ever find happiness or are they destined to spend their lives awaiting 'the splitting'? Will people begin to see them for who they are or are they forever to be viewed with fear, as an oddity? I'll leave it to you to read the book for yourself. You won't be disappointed.

Please Note, part of the Book Tour/Back Cover Blurb and my review is hidden because of what might be seen as spoilers. In order to read simply scroll over to hi-light. Thank you, Felicity

About GD Harper ... I became a full-time author in 2016, publishing three novels under the pen name GD Harper. I have been both a Wishing Shelf Book Award finalist and Red Ribbon winner, been shortlisted for the Lightship Prize, longlisted for the UK Novel Writing Award and longlisted for the Page Turner Writer Award. The Maids of Biddenden was a finalist in this year’s Page Turner Book Award for unpublished manuscripts, longlisted for the Exeter Book Prize and the Flash 500 Novel Award, and shortlisted for the Impress Prize.

Follow GD Harper ... ~ Website ~ FaceBook ~ Twitter


Kelly said...

I must add this one to my TBR. I, too, loved reading about Chang and Eng Bunker, so I feel certain I'd like this one, as well.

Good review!

nightwingsraven said...

I have added this book to my list.
As I suspect that I would appreciate
it very much.
And as always, thank you for your
excellent review.

Nadene @Ttly Addicted 2 Reading said...

So glad you enjoyed this one. Not a book I would generally pick up, but your review has me intrigued.

Sherry Ellis said...

I have never read a book about conjoined twins. Definitely unique! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

DMS said...

Well this sounds FASCINATING! I had no idea about these twins and am intrigued about a book that is based on them. Thanks for your review and putting this book on my radar. :)

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Definitely one for my 'wish list', as the sheer historical context of how co-joined twins might have been perceived and treated at that time, would really interest me.

If you enjoyed this storyline for what it is and leaving aside the historical time period, you might also enjoy 'The Girls' by Lori Lansens


I'll leave you the Goodreads link, although I read t before Fiction Books Blog was started, so I never recorded my review. Talking about it has made me want to go back and read it all over again, I might see if I can get my hands on a copy!

Nikki - Notes of Life said...

When somebody says "OOH! One of those books that had me hopping from foot to foot {figuratively speaking of course} in sheer excitement, what a great premise.", you just know it's going to be a great book! :D