Publication Date: May 27, 2014
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
READ AN EXCERPT.
A TALE OF SORCERY AND PASSION IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY LONDON—WHERE WITCHES HAUNT WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AND HIS DARK LADY, THE PLAYWRIGHT’S MUSE AND ONE TRUE LOVE.
The daughter of a Venetian musician, Aemilia Bassano came of age in Queen Elizabeth’s royal court. The Queen’s favorite, she develops a love of poetry and learning, maturing into a young woman known not only for her beauty but also her sharp mind and quick tongue. Aemilia becomes the mistress of Lord Hunsdon, but her position is precarious. Then she crosses paths with an impetuous playwright named William Shakespeare and begins an impassioned but ill-fated affair.
A decade later, the Queen is dead, and Aemilia Bassano is now Aemilia Lanyer, fallen from favor and married to a fool. Like the rest of London, she fears the plague. And when her young son Henry takes ill, Aemilia resolves to do anything to save him, even if it means seeking help from her estranged lover, Will—or worse, making a pact with the Devil himself.
In rich, vivid detail, Sally O’Reilly breathes life into England’s first female poet, a mysterious woman nearly forgotten by history. Full of passion and devilish schemes, Dark Aemilia is a tale worthy of the Bard.
Selected by O, The Oprah Magazine as one of 17 Books You Won’t Be Able To Put Down!
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Aemilia Bassano grew up in Queen Elizabeth's court. She later becomes mistress to a much older Lord Hunsdon, the son of Mary Boleyn. Lord Hunsdon takes Aemilia to a play where she meets a young playwright, Will Shakespeare. From the moment they meet, an anger and passion envelop both Aemilia and Will, and their love affair begins. Shakespeare wrote of a Dark Lady... this tells of how dark Aemilia really might have been.
I devoured this book! I was thrown into Shakespearean London with a force. There were engaging and very real descriptions of the city, houses, dress, characters and even the plague. Aemilia's character felt raw and real. She is described as a proto-feminist of her time and I felt connected to her cause to become a published and recognized poet and writer. While some of the steps she takes to get there are brash, I think it just adds to the excitement of the story. There is quite a bit of lewd language and erotic romance, which I'm usually not that into; however, it works for me and makes Aemilia more down to Earth. There is a thread of the supernatural that is worked into the story, witchcraft is a theme throughout. At first I thought it was just being used as part of everyday Elizabethan society, but it is taken farther by Aemilia in her quest to save her son from the plague and later to be known as a writer. It seems almost unnecessary, but ends up tying in nicely with the story of Macbeth. As an added bonus for me, I enjoyed learning about Aemilia Bassano-Lanyer; a real woman in history who may have played an important role in many of Shakespeare's writings.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Sally O’Reilly has received numerous citations for her fiction, which has been shortlisted for the Ian St James Short Story Prize and the Cosmopolitan Short Story Award. A former Cosmopolitan New Journalist of the Year, her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Sunday Times, the Evening Standard, and the New Scientist. She teaches creative writing at the Open University and the University of Portsmouth in England. Dark Aemilia is her U.S. debut.
For information and news please visit Sally O’Reilly’s website and the Dark Aemilia Facebook Page.