Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Blog Book Tour | “The Dark Lady’s Mask” by Mary Sharratt

Posted Wednesday, 24 August, 2016 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary copy of “The Dark Lady’s Mask” direct from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read this novel about William Shakespeare:

Ahead of sharing my love of Shakespeare, I am celebrating the return of being able to read a novel of Mary Sharratt for review on Jorie Loves A Story! Whilst I was a 1st Year Book Blogger (observed my 3rd blog birthday earlier this month on the 6th of August), I had the pleasure of joy reading Illuminations: {A novel of Hildegard von Bingen} as my debut review for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in November, 2013! The novel introduced me to an enriched version of reading biographies – an introduction that would carry me forward into the wonderful world of what I refer to as ‘Biographical Historical Fiction’; a mainstay of my reading queues! As routed through this category of interest!

From that foundation, I started to seek out traditional biographies and memoirs, under the new vein of interest called ‘Creative Non-Fiction’ where the stories are threaded through an emotional contextual core of narrative. For you see, if I hadn’t first read Illuminations all the lovelies I’ve been discovering since might not have alighted in my hands to read. Mary Sharratt truly opened my mind and eyes to how a story could be told whilst peering back into the historical past through a living history of a person who once lived. Her style of the craft is quite acutely realistic for the time periods she’s exploring; she has a conviction of setting with a lifeblood of drawing characters out of the wells of history to give us a resounding portrait of ‘who once lived’ can live once again in our own imaginations.

You see, I fell in love with reading Shakespeare when I was fourteen; prior to that year, (as a freshman in high school) I knew of the Bard far more than I had read his works. I was smitten by the idea of what a Shakespearean play would contain but I had not started reading his works until it became required reading. Ironic, no? Of those readings (Romeo & Juliet & Julius Caesar), it was my readings of Caesar that staid with me the most! I liked the tenacity of the piece and the guttingly humanistic emotional tides ebbing in and out of the realisation of how the conspirators befell a leader. There was such a lot of dramatic eclipse in that back-story, I daresay, right then and there, I should have realised how much I would come to appreciate reading Historical Fiction! If only hindsight were available,..

I was gifted a portable collection of Shakespeare’s works for my four and twenty birthday, a fact that isn’t lost on me now that I’m in the latter years of my twentytens; of which selections of plausible readings are listed on my own Classics Club List where they lie in wait for me to soak inside their stories. It isn’t that I have balked at reading more Shakespeare, it’s the mere fact I simply haven’t felt in ‘the mood’ to re-enter his works. There are moments where I distinctively feel literature is based on our moods; this clearly is one of them! Another example would be my distance from the ghost stories of Heather Graham; for me, those require a certain atmosphere to enjoy (i.e. thunderstorms).

As so much has become disputed and/or proved in regards to Shakespeare’s legacy and identity, I felt it was proper time to delve into a portion of the history surrounding him I haven’t yet learnt of first-hand. This is where reading Biographical HistFic is especially fun for me! I get to tuck inside the research and the visionary plausibilities of where known fact and supposition reside to paint an image of ‘what could have been’ and very much could honestly be the living testament of a person who lived so very long ago!

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Blog Book Tour | “The Dark Lady’s Mask” by Mary SharrattThe Dark Lady's Mask
by Mary Sharratt
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

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.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780544300767

Also by this author: Illuminations: {A novel of Hildegard von Bingen}

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction


Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

on 19th April, 2016

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 416

Published ByHoughton Mifflin Harcourt (@HMHCo)

Converse via: #TheDarkLadysMask, #Shakespeare + #HistFic
Available Formats: Hardcover, Trade Paperback & Ebook

Read about Aemilia Bassano Lanier via Poetry Foundation

Read Ms Sharratt’s blog post about The Dark Lady’s Mask via Feminism & Religion

About Mary Sharratt

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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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Wednesday, 24 August, 2016 by jorielov in 16th Century, Aemilia Bassano Lanier, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, British Literature, Classical Literature, England, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, William Shakespeare

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