Lo and behold, look what I just found at my local bookstore: my author friend Mary Sharratt‘s new novel, The Dark Lady’s Mask! This is one I’ve been eager to read for some time. Here’s the backstory:
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 gain freedoms only men enjoy, until a chance encounter with a ragged, little-known poet named Shakespeare changes everything. Aemilia grabs at the chance to pursue her long-held dream of writing and the two outsiders strike up a literary bargain, leaving 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 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. THE DARK LADY’S MASK gives voice to a real Renaissance woman in every sense of the word.
Long time visitors to this blog may recall I reviewed Mary’s Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen some time ago, as well as interviewed her about Daughters of the Witching Hill. To cut to the chase, I was deeply moved by both books. Mary has a true gift for bringing light to the hidden lives of women. The Dark Lady’s Mask promises to be just as enthralling. What’s not to like about a novel exploring the story behind Shakespeare’s secret muse?
Learn more about The Dark Lady’s Mask here.
Now that my Bad Princess news is out in the world*, here’s a sample of what I’m reading these days. Each of these are fascinating in their own way.
I have a June deadline for this book, so I am very nose-to-the-grindstone in the studio. Though much of the book is mapped out, there’s still much to do. I’m fortunate to be enjoying such good reading along the way.
*After my announcement on Facebook and Twitter, I was astounded by all the lovely messages. Please know how grateful I am for all of your kind wishes about Bad Princess!
Bad Princess will be published in time for the 2017 holiday season. Interweaving royal biography, history, and pop culture with insight, Bad Princess is a witty and fascinating examination of all things pink and royal. It offers a thinking girl’s look at what it means to be a princess, enabling her to reclaim this most feminine of role models—whether or not it involves glass slippers and a gown.
So hooray! More news coming soon—and back to work I go.
These days at Chez Art and Words, I’ve been deep into books more so than usual. Both the writing of them:
Exhibit A: Spreadsheets for the Next Novel and the Sekret Project book. Yes, I am that geeky.
And the reading of them:
Exhibit B: Just a few of the books gracing my shelves these days.
Total book immersion is a great way to survive the last licks of winter—in Brooklyn, spring can seem especially slow to arrive. Luckily, there’s no shortage of reading material here. I’ve books to read for research, as well as books to read for review. (More about those below.) Another spur to my increased book consumption: Thea and I have started a mother-daughter book club.
Here’s how the Mom-Daughter Book Club usually works: Thea recommends a book she loves. (Usually the book pick is thrust at me as soon as she finishes it. “Mom, you’ve gotta read this now.”) I read. We discuss. Sometimes it’s the opposite: I pre-read a book, if I’m concerned about content, before passing it Thea’s way.
We’ve read some great books together this way: Rebecca Stead‘s When You Reach Me (okay, the ending made me cry—it’s basically a middle grade version of The Time Traveler’s Wife). The Hunger Games trilogy (so much to discuss! Dystopias and totalitarian governments. Greek mythology. The sharply drawn characters!). Other books … well, let’s just say I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Maze Runner, much as Thea loved it. But that’s okay. We can still talk about what worked for us as readers, and what didn’t. The Mom-Daughter Book Club leads to hours of great conversation, and is far less emotionally fraught than talking about, say, middle school applications and room cleaning.
Recent additions to the mom-daughter book club I enjoyed: Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick, which has a charming Charlotte’s Web-inspired subplot and a compelling exploration of post-traumatic stress disorder. Jerry Spinelli’s Eggs, which has one of the best book covers I’ve ever seen. John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns. Besides being absurdly well written, Green’s novels spurred lots of deep philosophical discussion as well as laughter—he’s a master of dialogue. His novels also offer an entry point to discuss teen sexuality and other Uncomfortable Issues Usually Avoided. (Remember, DFTBA.)
On the review front, I’ve received ARCS for some especially delectable books. (Many thanks to Touchstone Books and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing me with review copies.) In the coming week, I’m delighted to be offering the inside skinny on Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince by Lisa Hilton, a new biography of Elizabeth Tudor that explores how she used gender expectations to advance her reign. Also on tap: Catherine Lowell’s The Madwoman Upstairs, a fun Bronte-fueled romp of a novel, and The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life by BookSlut.com’s Jessa Crispin.
More about these books soon. In the meantime, here’s a The New Yorker interview with Jessa Crispin about the co-mingling of tarot and literature. Enjoy!
View of the work desk in its current state of busyness. A dear friend had this notebook made for me as a house gift. More posts coming soon—as soon as I catch up in the studio.