My guest author this week is historical author, Carol McGrath, who is sharing a scene from her popular historical novel, The Woman in the Shadows. Let’s take a look at the evocative cover, and blurb.


‘Next time if there is a marriage, it will be one of my own choosing…’

When beautiful cloth merchant’s daughter, Elizabeth Williams, is widowed at the age of twenty-two, she is determined to make a success in the cloth business she has learned from her father. But, there are those who oppose a woman making her own way in the world of Tudor London. Elizabeth makes enemies – enemies who know the truth about her late husband. Security and success come when she meets and falls in love with Thomas Cromwell who respects and loves her too, but for Elizabeth it isn’t easy being the wife of an influential and ambitious man in Henry VIII’s London.

Here is one of Carol’s favourite scenes, it comes early in the novel when a mysterious arsonist attacks Elizabeth’s warehouse in Wood Street.

A leaping flame rose into a high pillar. Neighbours worked hard to quench it as helplessly I watched. For a moment the flames died and I could see inside the storehouse. What I had lost was illuminated by a strange rosy light— a heap of burning cloth, timbers and chests reduced to ash and embers of smouldering wood. A great dye cauldron we rarely used was a pool of molten iron. Everything was destroyed. I cursed the Devil. I cursed Midsummer’s Eve. I cursed the exhausted sleep that had rendered me insensible to the danger of fire. I stopped close of cursing God who had allowed this terrible thing to happen.

It was when too shocked to weep and I stood helplessly staring at the destruction of my goods a man’s voice hissed into my ear, ‘Sin never goes unpunished, widow.’

I spun around but already he was vanishing into the smoke, hurrying away towards the alley. This shade had appeared by my side as a malicious shadow, and with an intake of breath it was gone. In that moment, I remembered my dead husband. Who here knew what he had been when living? God did – God did, and this destruction was our punishment, my first husband’s and mine.

Those by me had not heard the shadow’s words. Rather, they were focused on the ghastly spectacle before them and were drawing back and forward, passing water along a line to quench the last flames, not taking any notice of me, but someone had known whom I was. Someone had been watching for me. Was I being punished for concealing my husband’s sin?

What Readers are saying about The Woman in the Shadows

‘A delicate and detailed portrayal, absolutely beautifully done. Captivating.’ Suzannah Dunn

‘An intriguing and compelling portrayal of a woman who lived in the shadow of one of Tudor England’s most powerful men. Elizabeth Cromwell’s world and that of her enigmatic husband, is brought to life in this engaging narrative.’ Tracy Borman, Historian.

‘Step into the intimate world of Thomas Cromwell as seen through the eyes of his wife, Elizabeth.’ Anne O’Brien

‘A delicious frisson of dangers slithers through every page of the book. Enthralling.’ Karen Maitland.

‘Rich, vivid and immersive, an enthralling story of the turbulent Tudor era.’ Nicola Cornick.

It sounds a fantastic read, doesn’t it? You can get yourself a copy here:

Amazon UK

Meet Carol

Author bio

Carol McGrath taught History and English for many years in both the state and private sectors. She left teaching to work on a MA in Creative Writing from Queens University Belfast, then an MPhil in English at Royal Holloway, London, where she developed her expertise on the Middle Ages. The idea to tell the story about the death of King Harold told from the viewpoint of his common law wife, Edith Swan-Neck, first came to her on a visit to Bayeux with the Launton/Gavray Twinning Society, which she chaired. Carol is married with two children and runs a business with her husband. She also reviews books for the Historical Novels Review.

Contact links

Follow me on Twitter @carolmcgrath

Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your book, Carol. wishing you lots of sales!

Forget the chilly weather, bring a little sunshine into your life with one of my feel-good romances, all set in glorious locations. Check out my Amazon Author Page for details.