Monday, May 2, 2016

Review: The Dark Lady's Mask: A Novel of Shakespeare's Muse by Mary Sharratt

02_The Dark Lady's Mask
Shakespeare in Love meets Shakespeare’s Sister in this novel of England’s first professional woman poet and her collaboration and love affair with William Shakespeare.

 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, but 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 and 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.

Publication Date: April 19, 2016
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover, eBook, Audio Book; 416 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Mary Sharratt is a relatively new author to me.  I loved her book Illuminations and eagerly looked forward to this one.  I was not disappointed at all.

 What I loved about The Dark Lady's Mask is that even though Shakespeare is a big part of this story he doesn't take center stage.  As you can read above Aemilia is an interesting character and the author made this an interesting and unique story.  Mary Skarratt breathed life to a little known historical character.  Though there isn't much actual details about her life the author made this one authentic reflecting the location and time period nicely.

The authors writing style made it easy to get lost here, I could feel Aemilia's frustrations, struggles as well as visualize so much.  Definitely a story I highly recommend.

Advance Praise

“An exquisite portrait of a Renaissance woman pursuing her artistic destiny in England and Italy, who may — or may not — be Shakespeare’s Dark Lady.” — MARGARET GEORGE, internationally bestselling author of Elizabeth I

“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

03_Mary Sharratt
MARY SHARRATT is an American writer who has lived in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, for the past seven years. 

The author of the critically acclaimed novels Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva, and The Vanishing Point, Sharratt is also the co-editor of the subversive fiction anthology Bitch Lit, a celebration of female antiheroes, strong women who break all the rules.

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