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.

 Add to GR Button

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Hardcover) | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Indiebound | Powell’s

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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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