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The Dark Lady's Mask Hardcover – April 19, 2016
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This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
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— Margaret George, internationally bestselling author of Elizabeth I
“The Dark Lady’s Mask is a richly imagined, intensely romantic and meticulously researched homage to lauded poet, Aemilia Bassano Lanyer. . . Sharratt unfolds a captivating tale, a compelling ‘what if ’ scenario, of a secret union that fed the creative fires of England’s greatest poet and playwright.”
— Kathleen Kent, bestselling author of The Heretic’s Daughter
“Perfectly chosen details and masterful characterization bring to life this swiftly moving, elegant story. As atmospheric and compelling as it is wise, The Dark Lady’s Mask is a gem not to be missed.”
— Lynn Cullen, bestselling author of Mrs. Poe and Twain’s End
“Mary Sharratt is a magician. This novel transports the reader to Elizabethan England with a tale of the bard and his love that is nothing short of amazing. Absorbing, emotional, historically fascinating. A work of marvelous ingenuity!”
— M.J. Rose, New York Times bestselling author of The Witch of Painted Sorrows
“I enjoyed this exciting fantasy of Shakespeare’s ‘dark lady.’ There was adventure, betrayal, resilience, and above all, the fun notion that Shakespeare might have had far more than a muse to help him create his wonderful plays.”
—Karleen Koen, bestselling author of Dark Angels and Before Versailles
“The Dark Lady’s Mask beautifully depicts the exhilaration and pitfalls of subterfuge, a gifted woman’s precarious reliance on the desires of powerful men, and the toll paid by unrecognized artistic collaborators. Resonant and moving.”
—Mitchell James Kaplan, author of By Fire, By Water
“Romantic, heart-breaking, and rich in vivid historical detail and teeming Elizabethan life, the novel forms an elegant tapestry of the complexities, joys, and sorrows of being both a female and an artist.”
—Karen Essex, author of Leonardo’s Swans and Dracula in Love
“Mary Sharratt has created an enchanting Elizabethan heroine, a musician, the orphaned daughter of a Jewish Italian refugee who must hide her heritage for her safety. . . Aemilia has wit and daring and poetry inside her that will make her a match for young Will Shakespeare himself.”
—Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet
From the Inside Flap
Poet, playwright, courtesan, mother, mentor, and Shakespeare s muse
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.
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Top customer reviews
Lanier was the first Englishwoman to be a professional, paid, poet. This, and running a short lived school for girls, was how she made her living. The cost of publishing her writing was paid by female patrons. This secured her place in history, whether or not she was Shakespeare’s muse or lover. Sharratt takes Lanier from girlhood to midlife. Her life was not easy; she frequently faced poverty. The laws of the day left women totally at the mercy of the men in their lives, and, of course, everyone was at the mercy of disease.
Aemilia was luckier than most; after her father’s death, she was fostered with a rich woman who felt all girls should be well educated. That didn’t save her from becoming mistress to the Queen’s half-brother, or from an arranged marriage to a man who drank too much and lost money constantly, though, or from having her affair with Shakespeare end in an ugly way. She is a very strong woman, though, who tries to keep the reins of her life in her own hands and succeeds as much as any woman of the time could have. In her young days, she frequently dressed in male clothing, hiding her sex to gain the freedom to go where she wanted and do as she wished. As the daughter of a hidden Jew, she also had to hide her very dangerous heritage.
I thought this book was wonderful, even though it left me feeling that Shakespeare may have been a bit of a jerk. She gives life to Aemelia in her good times and her bad. Sadly, the other characters are not nearly so well fleshed out; the focus is all on Aemilia. But the people in the story, many of them historic personages, are still enjoyable. My favorites? The three Weir sisters who work for Aemilia- who are herbalists, and perhaps more.
Most recent customer reviews
Stars: Overall: 4 Narration: 5 Story: 4
A fortuitous upbringing for a young woman, daughter of a court musician, was innovative and...Read more