"Entertaining . . . Quite touching, a finale befitting a character who has spun many a tale without ever seeing a byline.” —Washington Post
"Atmospheric, well-researched, carefully plotted, this is an intellectual’s romance novel . . . . full-bodied and intelligent, and, like Shakespeare’s plays, chock-full of equal parts mirth and pith to please all.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Glorious . . . . It’s too easy to categorize The Dark Lady’s Mask as a novel of romance and Shakespeare. This is a novel of womanhood, its constraints and celebrations." —Roanoke Times
"Sharratt creates a believable and delightful portrayal of Lanier and her possible role as Shakespeare’s Dark Muse. Her characters are rich and complex, and the intricacies, joys, and pains of their lives are realistic. The speculation within the novel works extremely well, because Sharratt works with historical fact and academic theory in the space between the documented facts of Lanier’s life, Shakespeare’s life, and their written works. Very highly recommended!" —Historical Novel Society
From the Inside Flap
London, 1593. Aemilia Bassano Lanier is beautiful and accomplished, but her societal conformity ends there. She frequently cross dresses to escape her loveless marriage and to gain freedoms only men enjoy and then a chance encounter with a ragged, little known poet named Shakespeare changes everything.
Aemilia grabs at the chance to pursue her long held dream of writing. The two outsiders strike up a literary bargain: They leave plague-ridden London for Italy, where they begin secretly writing comedies together and where Will falls in love with the beautiful country and with Aemilia, his Dark Lady. Their Italian idyll, though, cannot last and their collaborative affair comes to a devastating end. Will gains fame and fortune for their plays back in London and years later publishes the sonnets mocking his former muse. Not one to stand by in humiliation, Aemilia takes up her own pen in her defense and in defense of all women.
The Dark Lady s Mask gives voice to a real Renaissance woman in every sense of the word.