NANCY MARIE BROWN is the author of A Good Horse Has No Color and Mendel in the Kitchen. She lives in Vermont with her husband, the writer Charles Fergus.
While most medieval women didn't stray far from home, the Viking Gudrid (985-1050) probably crossed the North Atlantic eight times, according to Brown. Rather than just a passenger, Gudrid may have been the explorer on North American expeditions with two different husbands (one was the brother of Leif Ericson, who "discovered" America 500 years before Columbus). Brown (A Good Horse Has No Color) catches glimpses of Gudrid in the medieval Icelandic sagas which recount that her father, a chieftain with money problems, refused to wed Gudrid to a rich but slave-born merchant; instead he swapped their farm for a ship and a new life in Greenland. Specifics about her life are sparse, so Brown, following in Gudrid's footsteps, explores the archeology of her era, including the splendid burial ships of Viking queens; the remains of Gudrid's longhouse in a northern Icelandic hayfield; the economy of the farms where she lived; and the technology of her time, including shipbuilding, spinning wool and dairying. But the plucky and adaptable Gudrid remains mysterious, so this impressively researched account will interest serious students of Icelandic archeology, literature and women's history more than the general reader. Map. (Oct.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
PRAISE FOR THE FAR TRAVELER "[A] snappily written biography . . . In surprising flashes, Gudrid comes into focus. Brown pursues Gudrid out of admiration for a woman bold and wise. I eagerly pursued this book, which is as much about Brown's adventures as Gudrid's, for the very same reasons."--The New York Times Book Reivew "Brown's enthusiasm is infectious as she re-teaches us our history."--The Boston Globe