Title: The Dark Lady's Mask
Author: Mary Sharratt
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publish Date: April 19, 2016 (Yesterday!)
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "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
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."
My Two Cents:
"The Dark Lady's Mask" is the story of Aemilia who is mostly known to history as William Shakespeare's mistress. This has been oft questioned and disputed but this books drives forward under the premise that she was his mistress. This book breathes life into a woman's story who has mostly been lost to history.
I loved the character of Aemilia and I loved that Sharatt lets her truly stand on her own and out of Mr. Shakespeare's shadow. So much of the detail of her life seems to be lost to history and she is only remembered often for her dealings with Will. Aemilia is a fascinating person in her own right. She was incredibly educated, which was so unusual for women of her time. The story goes through a good chunk of her life so we the readers really get to know her well. I loved following her life.
The writing of the book was good! There is so much detail that the characters really come to life! The author did a great job of evoking the time period. I loved imagining all of the places that Aemilia goes throughout the book. One of the fantastic things about historical fiction is that it can help tell the story of people forgotten to history. The details of Aemilia's life are too often forgotten. Overall, this is a great pick about a fascinating woman!