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  1 Dark Aemilia: A Novel of Shakespeare's Dark Lady
Author: O'Reilly, Sally
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Class: Fiction
Age: Adult
Language: English
LC: PR6115.R
Print Run: 50000
ISBN-13: 9781250048134
LCCN: 2014012177
Imprint: Picador
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pub Date: 05/27/2014
Availability: Out of Print Confirmed
List: $26.00
Physical Description: 436 pages ; 25 cm H 9.59", W 6.36", D 1.36", 1.4 lbs.
LC Series:
Brodart Sources: Brodart's Insight Catalog: Adult
Brodart's TOP Adult Titles
Awards: Kirkus Starred Reviews
Starred Reviews: Kirkus Reviews
TIPS Subjects: Historical Fiction
Young Adult
BISAC Subjects: FICTION / Literary
FICTION / Historical / General
LC Subjects: FICTION / Historical
FICTION / Literary
Great Britain, History, Elizabeth, 1558-1603, Fiction
Great Britain, History, James I, 1603-1625, Fiction
Historical fiction
Lanyer, Aemilia, Fiction
Shakespeare, William,, 1564-1616, Fiction
Women poets, Fiction
SEARS Subjects: Great Britain, History, 1485-1603, Tudors, Fiction
Great Britain, History, 1603-1714, Stuarts, Fiction
Historical fiction
Lanyer, Aemilia, Fiction
Shakespeare, William,, 1564-1616, Fiction
Women poets, Fiction
Reading Programs:
Brodart's TOP Adult Titles | 01/01/2014
Ten years after Queen Elizabeth's death, the woman who grew up as a favorite in the woman's royal court turns to former lover and playwright William Shakespeare to help save her son after her tumultuous fall from grace. 448pp., 50K, Auth res: Brighton, UK
Starred Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews | 04/15/2014
British author O'Reilly makes her U.S. debut with a gripping novel that gives feisty feminist voice to the unknown woman who inspired Shakespeare's sonnets. Their romance clearly has no future: She is the mistress of the elderly Lord Hunsdon; he is a playwright with little cash and a wife in Stratford. Yet for a few rapturous months in 1592, Aemilia Bassano and Will Shakespeare are swept away by a passion (vividly and earthily described by O'Reilly) neither of them will ever know again. When Aemilia becomes pregnant, she makes the pragmatic choice and convinces Hunsdon the baby is his; he arranges her marriage to a complaisant courtier. Will's anguish turns to hatred when he walks in on the heavily pregnant Aemilia being raped by the dissolute Henry Wriothesley and takes Wriothesley's word that it's consensual. Of course he would believe another man, bitterly concludes Aemilia, who throughout the narrative engages readers' sympathy with her outrage over the way women are kept down and denied a voice. Ten years later, when desperation to cure her plague-stricken son drives Aemilia to practice black magic, it's utterly appropriate that she summons the demon Lilith, biblical Adam's rebellious first wife. (The rather lurid supernatural elements are acceptable in the context of the Elizabethan worldview O'Reilly ably recaptures.) In return for her help, Lilith commands Aemilia to write The Tragedie of Ladie Macbeth, a savage affirmation of women's power that--you guessed it--Aemilia offers to Shakespeare's partner Richard Burbage, who promptly turns it over to Will to be remade as Macbeth. It's an insult even worse than the vindictive portrait of her in his sonnets, but Aemilia and Will still love each other, painfully and without hope. O'Reilly brings her star-crossed lovers together and drives them apart through plot twists that are, for once, credible outgrowths of the characters' personalities and beliefs, finally giving them a tender, heartbreaking parting. First-rate historical fiction: marvelously atmospheric and emotionally engaging. 448pg. KIRKUS MEDIA LLC, c2014.
Journal Reviews
Booklist | 04/15/2014
O'Reilly's American debut is an imaginative take on the life of poet Aemilia Layner, a contemporary of William Shakespeare. O'Reilly posits a lifelong love between the striking Aemilia and the famous bard, a relationship that inspired some of Shakespeare's more passionate sonnets. Aemilia meets Will in 1592, when she is the mistress of the much older but kindly Lord Hunsdon. Taken by her beauty and wit, Will pursues her, and the two begin an affair that lasts until Aemilia becomes pregnant. Hunsdon thinks the child is his and arranges for her to marry her charming but feckless cousin Alonso. Will is devastated, but when he walks in on his patron, Wriothesley, raping Aemilia, he misinterprets the situation and believes she has been unfaithful to him. They part ways bitterly, but as the years go on, their paths cross again repeatedly, igniting the ever-present spark between them. Though some of O'Reilly's suppositions feel like reaches--particularly Aemilia's involvement with Macbeth--this is a lively, vividly rendered novel about the dramatic life of an extraordinary woman. Huntley, Kristine. 448p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
Library Journal | 03/01/2014
Of all the debates that rage in scholarly circles regarding Shakespeare, perhaps one of the most popular--second only to the question of authorship--is the argument over the identity of the "Dark Lady." A popular choice is a woman considered one of "Shakespeare's Sisters": poet Aemelia Lanyer. The daughter of a royal musician, educated among the elite of English society, she became courtesan to one of the most powerful lords in Elizabeth I's court. But upon becoming pregnant, she was married off to a wastrel cousin, exiled to the working-class neighborhoods of London, and left to rage and write in obscurity. Making her U.S. debut, British author O'Reilly fills in the gaps between what is known of these two Renaissance artists, supposing Aemelia to be the Dark Lady, Shakespeare's lover and muse. With elegant style, masterly wordplay, and an eye for historical detail, O'Reilly beautifully relates a passionate and tragic love story, worthy of two such well-known figures. VERDICT With Shakespeare's 450th birthday approaching this April, fans of historical fiction writers such as Philippa Gregory, Anne Easter Smith, and Tracy Chevalier won't want to miss this one. [See Prepub Alert, 1/6/14; academic and library marketing.]. Leigh Wright, Bridgewater, NJ. 448p. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2014.
Library Journal Prepub Alert | 01/06/2014
Daughter of a Venetian musician at Queen Elizabeth's court, Aemilia Lanyer (nee Bassano) was the first Englishwoman to establish herself as a professional poet, and she is sometimes rumored to be the "Dark Lady" of Shakespeare's sonnets. British author O'Reilly, an award-winning fiction author and former Cosmopolitan New Journalist of the Year, makes her U.S. debut with a novel that imagines a relationship between Aemilia and Will and brings in some witches to boot. Lots of in-house excitement, with a big push to fans of Deborah Harkness, Paula Brackston, and Sarah Dunant. 448p. LJ Prepub Alert Online Review. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2014.
Publishers Weekly | 02/10/2014
O'Reilly's U.S. debut is a lush what-if about the Dark Lady of Shakespeare's sonnets that mesmerizes with its descriptions of the Bard's London from 1592 to 1616, the year of his death. The novel posits that celebrated real-life poet Aemilia Lanyer was Shakespeare's inspiration for that mysterious figure. O'Reilly chronicles a secret affair between Aemilia--the mistress of a rich, elderly courtier to Queen Elizabeth I, and, later, wife of a court musician--and the up-and-coming playwright, as they fall in and out of love, eventually reconnecting when Shakespeare stages Macbeth and a deadly curse plays out. In this telling, it's Aemilia who contributes some of the play's most famous lines. She is presented as a prototypical feminist, challenging convention as she tries to save the son that she had with Shakespeare. O'Reilly casts her story with witches, doomed royals, evil courtiers, and star-crossed lovers, as if it were a Jacobean play. But her finest accomplishment is not the tribute she pays to these historical figures, but the bold imagination she displays in bringing them together. (June). 448p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.