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|Print List Price:||$34.99|
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Life Mask: A Novel Kindle Edition
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|Length: 669 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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"Mesmerizing. With the French Revolution raging in the background, Donoghue has lighted on another terrific story, and she pulls off a dazzling feat of choreography."--Julia Livshin, The Washington Post Book World
"Few will be able to put it down before its enthralling tales end."--Chicago Tribune
Readers who stay with Donoghue through the crowded and confusing early chapters of Life Mask will find a skillful, partly sympathetic portrait of English aristocracy during and after the French Revolution, a trove of period detail, and a spellbinding tale of unlikely but enduring love. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- Publication Date : September 5, 2005
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B003WUYPDI
- Publisher : Mariner Books; 1st Edition (September 5, 2005)
- File Size : 1099 KB
- Print Length : 669 pages
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #801,437 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I can see how the book's length and the details of political rivalries in Georgian England might put off some American readers. Despite those challenges, I enjoyed the details and slow development of the story. Emma Donoghue inhabits her characters' hearts and minds the way few other novelists do. I got to like the main players in their long journeys to self-discovery, and I was impressed by the author's command of historical detail and social manners. She captured romantic longing and repulsion, friendship, duty, betrayal, family ties and inheritance, artistic endeavor (sculpting and acting) and social conventions in all their complexity. The depiction of Anne Damer slowly coming to an understanding of her sexual nature against all odds was particularly thoughtful. I recommend "Life Mask" for patient readers who enjoy historical and romantic fiction.
The story takes place in late 18th century England, and the novel's characters are all real individuals in London society at that time. At the center of the novel is the story of a famed and very beautiful actress in London then, Eliza Farren, and her contemporary, the famed sculptress Anne Damer, as well as Miss Farren's suitor, the Earl of Derby. Other characters that play important roles are politicians of the time, all historically accurate in this novel, as well as royalty. Eliza Farren's gorgeous portrait by Thomas Lawrence, also a vivid character in this novel, hangs in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The portrait and the stir it caused in London at the time are brought to life in this novel, one the many historical details in this novel.
But do not think this is a dry history lesson. There are a number of romantic plot lines, not only berween Eliza Farren and the Earl of Derby, but between Anne Damer and other women. These also are historically accurate. Themes explored in this novel include theater life at that time, the political upheaval of the period, and the secrecy and suppression of lesbian (and by extension all same-sex) feelings and relationships, a serious crime then, and a cause for social outcasting. The novel is rich in details of daily life in London, and so historically accurate that one is left with a strong sense of what went on in England at the time.
N.B.: It is best to bookmark the list of dramatis personae at the end of the book, because of the numerous characters and their political roles. The Kindle editon had many typos thoroughout, such as "Damer" appearing as "Darner" in several places, quite confusing at first.
Top reviews from other countries
As a historian of the period I was pleased to see a broad range of familiar characters popping up to deliver supporting or cameo roles. Charles James Fox, the Duchess of Devonshire and Horace Walpole appear, and I loved nearly every single scene-stealing appearance made by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. My main criticism of the book would be that the political background, a major part of the novel, is oversimplified. A lot of technical terms are bandied about without the author apparently understanding them in context-- "Tory", "prime minister" and "liberal" for example. Donoghue also has a regrettable habit of making unsubtle and intrusive attempts to connect events of the 1790s to events of the 2000s. The parallels between Britain's reaction to revolutionary France and the American and British reactions to 9/11 are obvious enough without having to resort to using anachronistic terms like "weapons of mass destruction", "homeland security" and "terrorist".
These are, however, pedantic niggles and certainly did not detract from my overall enjoyment. I highly recommend this novel to any student of the period, and hope anyone unfamiliar with it will find it an entertaining introduction to late eighteenth century Britain.