Thursday, May 12, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway: The Dark Lady’s Mask: A Novel of Shakespeare’s Muse by Mary Sharratt

Book Synopsis
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.

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My Review

I have always loved Shakespeare.  When I was in high school, we studied one Shakespearean comedy and one tragedy each year.  Then in college, I had a course in Shakespeare's plays.   His work is so rich, but I only knew the basic details of his life.  Therefore the plot of this novel was extremely intriguing to me. 

The Dark Lady's Mask is a real treasure for fans of historical fiction.  The historical details are beautifully realized, and readers will visit both Elizabethan England and Venice.  I found the details of a writer's life during this period particularly intriguing.

Aemilia is a fascinating protagonist, strong, creative, and determined.  I enjoyed reading the way she worked to rise above the challenges she encountered.

The storytelling is wonderful, with well developed characters and exceptional descriptions.  This is my first read by Mary Sharratt, but it certainly will not be my last.

I very enthusiastically recommend The Dark Lady's Mask for other fans of historical fiction.


Author Bio 

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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One lucky winner will win a copy of this book.  Open to US residents only.  Giveaway ends 5/19/16.  Winner will be notified by email, and will need to respond within 48 hours.  The prize will be mailed directly from the author or her publicist. 


– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

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I received a copy of this book from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.



Kelley Foulk said...

My Daughter Loves These Kinds Of Books!!! Thanks For the great post and giveaway

Shann Eva said...

Great review! I honestly haven't read any Shakespeare since high school, but I really want to go back and re-read some. I don't really know anything about his life, so this sounds like an interesting read. I love a female protagonist too. Thanks for the giveaway!

Sandy Klocinski said...

Mary Sharratt is the type of author that writes with a gift. I dare say the novel will have its detractors, particularly those who find the portrait of Shakespeare doesn’t live up to their expectations of him as a romantic hero. I'm not a regular reader of historical fiction, but I do read some especially if the subjects are some of my favorites - Shakespeare being one of them.

Kristie said...

This looks like a great read. I love historical fiction. She is a new author to me. Thanks for your honest review. kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you.

Aleksandra Nearing said...

This looks like a book I would enjoy. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This looks like a great read. I like historical fiction.

Laura said...

I love the cover. I would be so excited to read this! Thank you for the chance! :)

Nancy said...

This sounds like a fascinating book.

allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Emma @ Our Whimsical Days said...

I love historical fiction - this one sounds right up my alley!

Lisa Jagodzinski said...

I am a big fan of Shakespeare's work so this is something I would probably enjoy reading

Kim Reid said...

I would love to read this book, historical fiction is a favorite of mine!

Emi Pearce said...

We just visited her area of England summer when we went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach.