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The Woman who Loved an Octopus and other Saint's Tales

The Woman who Loved an Octopus and other Saint's Tales

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From the sensuous sea to flight from the world, The Woman who Loved an Octopus is an inspired collection of twelve themed short stories, based on the lives and legends of thirteen Celtic women saints from the first millennium.

Retelling their stories in an intimate, contemporary, sometimes startling fashion, Imogen Rhia Herrad has created a new vision of these women, who were perhaps far from 'saintly' by current definition. Some – Non, Winifred, Tydfil – are relatively well known, while others are almost forgotten.

Their tales reveal a strength and inner freedom in those more usually seen as victims and martyrs. Herrad explores intently and imaginatively the crossover between the physical, sexual, spiritual and mystical in the ancient and modern worlds she visits. The stories tell of refugees, circus acts, rape, love, death and miracles, while her saints also inhabit the natural world of streams, islands and birds.

"Forget the airbrushed, perma-tanned, size zero saccharine celebrity 'role models' gracing the covers of all the glossy magazines today. Imogen Herrad has delved back to tales to Celtic Saints of the fifth and sixth centuries to find some real women to look up to… It is when Herrad transposes her tales to the contemporary world that the full force of her talent becomes apparent… we find that sometimes Herrad roars and sometimes she has a quiet word in your ear, but mostly, as with good music, she sounds better with the volume turned up to eleven"
Susie Wild, New Welsh Review

"This is not a book of historical tracts or faithful retellings: hugely inventive, Herrad's stories flood old tales with fresh, or rediscovered meaning... An inspired idea, carried off with intelligence and grace."
Tessa Hadley

"What we encounter in Herrad's work is a spectacular commingling of mystical and contemporary worlds, a hunger for the absence and silence within and a determination to celebrate the omnipresence of these women who haunt, cohere and inspire us."
Menna Elfyn

Imogen Rhia Herrad is a freelance writer and broadcaster. Born and brought up in Germany, she has also lived in Wales (where she learnt Welsh) and in Argentina, and currently divides her time between London and Berlin.