Wednesday, July 11, 2012
I’ve been known to say, and I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration, that GLASTONBURY, A Novel of The Holy Grail, is the book I was born to write.
Just as the search for the Holy Grail is the centerpiece of this 820-page novel covering 1500 years of English history, so the stories of King Arthur have been a lifelong passion of mine.
The thing that really brought it all to life for me, though, was a research trip I made to the west country of England in the early 1980’s. My editor at that time accompanied me on the trip because we were both working on books set in Monmouth, Wales. Of course I couldn’t be that close to Glastonbury without making pilgrimage to the Holy Isle of Avalon.
After our all-too-short two day stay, we were leaving town when Carole began reading aloud from a little blue pamphlet she had picked up at a bookstall: “‘Did our Lord ever come to Glastonbury as a lad? The story lingers not only here, but elsewhere as well. Briefly, the tradition is that the young Jesus, entrusted to the care of his Uncle Joseph of Arimathea by his mother Mary, daughter of Joseph's elder brother, accompanied Joseph on one of his expeditions to Britain to seek metals for his flourishing trading company.’”
I gave a shout of laughter. “What? That's crazy!”
But Carole kept on. “No, wait, this is interesting. It says, ‘Perhaps there is some truth in the tradition which still lingers in Somerset that St. Joseph of Arimathea came to Britain first as a metal merchant seeking tin from the Scilly Isles and Cornwall, and lead, copper, and other metals from the hills of Somerset, and that his nephew came with him as a boy. The tradition is so startling that the first impulse is to reject it summarily as ridiculous.’”
“It sure is,” I said, but Carole kept on.
“‘Amongst the old tin-workers, who always observed a certain mystery in their rites, there was regularly a moment when they interrupted their work to sing a quaint song beginning, “Joseph was in the tin trade.”
“‘If this is so, it is quite natural to believe that after the crucifixion, when the church was dispersing under persecution and in answer to the Great Commission, Joseph and his party, which included his son Josephes, would come to this land with which Joseph was already acquainted.
“‘Among the cherished possessions the little band brought with them was the cup used at the Last Supper in Joseph of Arimathea's Jerusalem residence, an ordinary cup in everyday use in his house, now become a sacred treasure, since with this cup of olivewood our Lord had inaugurated the new covenant.’”
I quit laughing and my imagination soared. This is how the opening scene of GLASTONBURY came out:
Joseph looked down on the thatched roofs of the lake village where his eleven companions slept in guest quarters. The strangeness of the hill's green-darkness, of its windswept isolation, of its apartness from the rest of the world, chilled him. An almost deafening chorus of crickets and frogs assailed him, and a few drops of dew fell on his cheek as he surveyed this foreign landscape illumined by a cold moon.
What had he done in bringing his little band of believers, many of them women and youths, to this alien land? What awaited them tomorrow? Would the druid leader welcome missionaries of a new faith? Would he listen to the good news of the way of peace and love? Or would he institute one of the sacrifices Caesar had pictured after his visit to Britannia almost a hundred years ago-stuffing a giant wicker figure with human beings and setting it ablaze? Joseph shuddered.
And so begins the saga with the coming of the Holy Grail to Britannia, that far-off island at the edge of the mighty Roman Empire where the followers of The Way might escape persecution from a system that forced them to worship in secret in catacombs and dragged those who dared to disobey Caesar off to do battle in the coliseum.
The story unfolds through the centuries, through Celtic, Roman, Arthurian, Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Tudor times as Glastonbury sees it all. And the question remains, Where is the Holy Grail?
Glastonbury has been called “The holiest earth in England.” These are her legends, this is her history, this is the vast saga.
And best of all, it is FREE for Kindle download today and tomorrow:
Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 40 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. Besides the award-winning Glastonbury, Donna is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave and A Darkly Hidden Truth, as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the romantic suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries.
Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener. To read more about all of Donna’s books and see pictures from her garden and research trips go to: www.DonnaFletcherCrow.com.