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The Dark Lady's Mask: A Novel of Shakespeare's Muse
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Published:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2016
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Description

From the author of Ecstasy, a novel of Renaissance England’s first female poet, and her collaboration—and love affair—with William Shakespeare.

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—and then a chance encounter with a ragged, little-known poet named Shakespeare changes everything. 

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. 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. 

Named One of the Best Books of the Year by the St. Paul Pioneer Press

 “An absorbing bildungsroman that grapples with strikingly contemporary issues of gender and religious identification”—New York Times Book Review

“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, best-selling author of The Splendor Before the Dark

“The idea of a smart, beautiful, artistic woman telling Shakespeare, ‘We shall write comedies, you and I’ is as heady as the elderflower wine Aemilia’s household staff brews.”—Washington Post

“Atmospheric, well-researched, carefully plotted…and, like Shakespeare’s plays, chock-full of equal parts mirth and pith to please all.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
04/19/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780544289741
ASIN:
B011H55RAY
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Mary Sharratt. (2016). The Dark Lady's Mask: A Novel of Shakespeare's Muse. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Mary Sharratt. 2016. The Dark Lady's Mask: A Novel of Shakespeare's Muse. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Mary Sharratt, The Dark Lady's Mask: A Novel of Shakespeare's Muse. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Mary Sharratt. The Dark Lady's Mask: A Novel of Shakespeare's Muse. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: MARY SHARRATT, the author of seven critically acclaimed novels, is on a mission to write strong women back into history. Her novels include Daughters of the Witching Hill, the Nautilus Award–winning Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen,The Dark Lady's Mask: A Novel of Shakespeare's Muse, and Ecstasy, about the life, loves, and music of Alma Mahler. She is an American who lives in Lancashire, England.
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The Dark Lady's Mask
fullDescription

From the author of Ecstasy, a novel of Renaissance England’s first female poet, and her collaboration—and love affair—with William Shakespeare.

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—and then a chance encounter with a ragged, little-known poet named Shakespeare changes everything. 

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. 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. 

Named One of the Best Books of the Year by the St. Paul Pioneer Press

 “An absorbing bildungsroman that grapples with strikingly contemporary issues of gender and religious identification”—New York Times Book Review

“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, best-selling author of The Splendor Before the Dark

“The idea of a smart, beautiful, artistic woman telling Shakespeare, ‘We shall write comedies, you and I’ is as heady as the elderflower wine Aemilia’s household staff brews.”—Washington Post

“Atmospheric, well-researched, carefully plotted…and, like Shakespeare’s plays, chock-full of equal parts mirth and pith to please all.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
reviews
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      • source: Publisher's Weekly
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        February 22, 2016
        Sharratt’s (Shakespeare’s Muse) latest is a well-constructed historical novel set in Elizabethan England about the Bard of Avon, adopting the premise that Shakespeare relied on a female collaborator. A Jewish orphan whose persecuted family fled Italy and became royal court musicians, Aemilia Bassano Lanier aspires to become a poet (as the historical Lanier actually did). The well-educated Aemilia later becomes a cross-dresser, gets pregnant as a lord’s concubine, and is forced to marry the spineless court musician Alfonse. She meets Will Shakespeare and invites him to accompany her on a family trip to Italy, where she falls in love and cowrites romantic comedies with the poet. The author pulls few punches in her less than flattering portrayal of Shakespeare. After receiving the tragic news of his son’s death, Shakespeare ends their relationship and returns home, where he hopes to stage their plays. Aemilia also returns to England to find Alfonse disease ridden, and her troubles with Shakespeare continue to mount, culminating with his published sonnets vilifying her as the dark lady. Although the plucky Aemilia composes and publishes her own well-received poetry volume, her meager sales fail to improve her finances as Sharratt brings her bold Shakespearean novel to its poignant conclusion.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        February 15, 2016

        Aemelia Lanier was a woman ahead of her time. Uncommonly educated and artistically talented, she began her adult life as a courtesan in the court of Elizabeth I, only to wind up cast-off and trapped in a loveless marriage. A chance encounter with William Shakespeare and the descent of the plague on London offer Aemelia the opportunity to escape her life and start anew. In the idyll of the Italian countryside, she and Will blossom--as poets and lovers. However, stolen pleasures are soon thwarted; Shakespeare and his muse return to England separately, where his star rises as her life stagnates. With fire in her soul, Aemelia bides her time until the day she can use her pen to advocate openly for herself and the rights of women everywhere. VERDICT In her latest novel (after Illuminations), Sharratt delivers an immersive narrative of doomed romance. Certain plot and character choices may annoy Shakespeare purists though. Readers of Philippa Gregory and the like are sure to enjoy. [For another novel about Shakespeare's famous "Dark Lady," see Sally O'Reilly's Dark Aemilia.--Ed.]--Leigh Wright, Bridgewater, NJ

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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From the author of Ecstasy, a novel of Renaissance England’s first female poet, and her collaboration—and love affair—with William Shakespeare.

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—and then a chance encounter with a ragged, little-known poet named Shakespeare changes everything. 

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. 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,...

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