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The Resource The dark lady's mask, Mary Sharratt

The dark lady's mask, Mary Sharratt

Label
The dark lady's mask
Title
The dark lady's mask
Statement of responsibility
Mary Sharratt
Title variation
dark ladys mask
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
Disguising herself as a man to escape her loveless marriage and enjoy the exclusive freedoms of men, aspiring writer Aemilia Lanier falls in love and runs away with ragged poet William Shakespeare, with whom she secretly writes plays that bring him fame years later
Tone
Writing style
Character
Review
  • 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. (Apr.) --Staff (Reviewed 02/22/2016) (Publishers Weekly, vol 263, issue 08, p)
  • 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 (Reviewed 02/15/2016) (Library Journal, vol 141, issue 3, p96)
  • The identity of Shakespeare's Dark Lady is still a mystery, but Sharratt's picaresque novel portrays one of the worthiest candidates. Aemilia, illegitimate daughter of Battista Bassano, a Venetian Jew in exile and a renowned musician in Queen Elizabeth's court, enjoys a privileged upbringing. But her father's death and her stepsister's marriage to a ne'er-do-well impoverishes her family. Rescued and educated by a Puritan noblewoman who later abandons her, Aemilia becomes, at 16, the mistress of Lord Hunsdon, Elizabeth I's chamberlain, himself an illegitimate son of Henry VIII. When Aemilia becomes pregnant at 23, Hunsdon marries her off to Alfonse Lanier, a dissolute Frenchman. After Lanier wastes all her wealth, Aemilia contacts Will Shakespeare, an unsuccessful playwright of dull history plays, with a proposition. With her vivid imagination and superior education, she will co-author plays with the yet-to-be Bard, and they will split the profits. News of an unexpected legacy takes her to Venice, where she keeps her Jewish identity, and often her gender, secret. (She dresses in men's clothes when she needs to escape the many strictures on women.) Shakespeare, with not a thought for his wife, Anne Hathaway, and their three children, accompanies Aemilia (and Henry, her son by Lord Hunsdon) to Italy, where the two lead an idyllic existence at her inherited Veronese villa, co-writing Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet (as a comedy)—and falling in love. Here, Will pens his "Dark Lady" sonnets—but the bloom falls precipitously off the rose when he learns of the death of his son, Hamnet. Plunged into intractable remorse, Will parts ways with Aemilia, and both return to England by separate routes. However, Aemilia has possession of their joint work product—and Will's unborn child. The many challenges of life in Elizabethan England, particularly for women, are expertly captured by Sharratt, who heretofore has brought similar life to another gifted woman, Hildegard of Bingen (Illuminations, 2012). An ambitious fictional biography burdened by an overly intricate plot.(Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2016)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10482619
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1964-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Sharratt, Mary
Dewey number
813/.54
Index
no index present
Literary form
novels
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Lanyer, Aemilia
  • Shakespeare, William
  • Lanyer, Aemilia
  • Shakespeare, William
  • Women poets, English
  • Man-woman relationships
  • Man-woman relationships
  • Women poets, English
Label
The dark lady's mask, Mary Sharratt
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
1577127
Dimensions
24 cm
Extent
xi, 398 pages
Isbn
9780544300767
Lccn
2015020514
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780544300767
  • (OCoLC)910475664
Label
The dark lady's mask, Mary Sharratt
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
1577127
Dimensions
24 cm
Extent
xi, 398 pages
Isbn
9780544300767
Lccn
2015020514
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780544300767
  • (OCoLC)910475664

Library Locations

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    • Terrazas BranchBorrow it
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