Dark Aemilia

Dark Aemilia

3.23 (625 ratings by Goodreads)
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In the boldest imagining of the era since Shakespeare in Love and Elizabeth, this spellbinding novel of witchcraft, poetry and passion brings to life Aemilia Lanyer, the 'Dark Lady' of Shakespeare's Sonnets - the playwright's muse and his one true love. The daughter of a Venetian musician but orphaned as a young girl, Aemilia Bassano grows up in the court of Elizabeth I, becoming the Queen's favourite. She absorbs a love of poetry and learning, maturing into a striking young woman with a sharp mind and a quick tongue. Now brilliant, beautiful and highly educated, she becomes mistress of Lord Hunsdon, the Lord Chamberlain and Queen's cousin. But her position is precarious; when she falls in love with court playwright William Shakespeare, her fortunes change irrevocably. A must-read for fans of Tracy Chevalier (Girl With a Pearl Earring) and Sarah Dunant (The Birth of Venus), Sally O'Reilly's richly atmospheric novel compellingly re-imagines the struggles for power, recognition and survival in the brutal world of Elizabethan London.
She conjures the art of England's first professional female poet, giving us a character for the ages - a woman who is ambitious and intelligent, true to herself and true to her heart.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 448 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 39.12mm | 843g
  • Brighton, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 190843449X
  • 9781908434494
  • 2,409,608

Review quote

'First-rate historical fiction: marvellously atmospheric and emotionally engaging.' - Huffington Post: Books That Will Sweep You Off Your Feet 'Dark Aemilia makes one gasp with pleasure and nostalgia for a world one never knew. Profoundly romantic and erotic yet intelligent - glittery in its descriptions yet wholly believable. How glad one is to live now but how one envies the past!' - Fay Weldon 'A triumph of imaginative daring and meticulous research. Sixteenth-century London is conjured to life again on these pages: its mores and intrigues, its stink and wonder. Aemilia is a compelling character passionate, intelligent and tender whether we find her in the court of Elizabeth I or on the dark brink of a plague pit. This is a story about the random play of life and death, of creation and despair, and is a timelessly human drama.' - Alison MacLeod 'O'Reilly is a highly gifted writer and her story rests on extensive historical research, but its effortless, dazzling and richly evocative of Elizabethan London. Aemilia is a true heroine, passionate, driven and courageous in facing the dark forces arrayed against her and her son.' - Celia Brayfield 'Captivates in its depictions of Elizabethan London, from theatrical life at the Globe to the dead-carts and plague pits of the streets. O'Reilly writes with a sharp wit and lightness of touch but tells a story that is dark, erotic and mysterious. Aemilia is an engaging protagonist, intelligent and proud but not above some moral bargaining. For those readers of history who glimpse an intriguing woman in the shadows of men and ask, but what was it like for her, this novel is a treat.' - Susanna Jones 'This wildly romantic novel is a pleasure for anyone who enjoys well-crafted historical fiction and a special treat for Shakespeare lovers... O'Reilly creates a fiery, proto-feminist heroine and entangles her in a star-crossed affair - a wonderful premise for absorbing, satisfying fiction.' - Washington Post 'A colourful, enthralling, erotic, magical and mysterious debut novel based on extensive historical research... The story contains realistic characters and is full of passion, and intriguing plot developments that enthrall from start to finish... Aemilia's story was so compelling I did not want it to end. It demands a sequel. Highly recommended.' - Historical Novel Society 'Seductive, sharp-witted... a textured work of historical fiction.' - O, The Oprah Magazine: Books You Won t be Able To Put Down 'A rollicking tale of poetry and passion, witchcraft and treachery, love and intrigue in a world of beauty and danger.' - We Love This Book 'A passionate and moving love story with enough scandalous tension to keep the reader on the edge of their seat... details make the story utterly believable and hints of the supernatural give it a fresh twist. Dark Aemilia is a must-read for any fans of well-written romance or period drama.' - Vulpes Libris 'Beautifully written, with a real authenticity, the story reads like a time travel journal effortlessly taking the reader into the very heart of Elizabethan London, to a land alive with political mayhem and society scandal... It is in the minutiae of daily life where the story really comes alive... reading groups with an interest in good historical fiction will find much to discuss about Shakespeare's Dark Aemilia.' - New Books 'Mesmerises with its descriptions of the Bard's London from 1592 to 1616, the year of his death... 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.' - Publisher's Weekly
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About Sally O'Reilly

Sally O'Reilly has a PhD in Creative Writing from Brunel University, London, and teaches Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth. She is the author of How to be a Writer and (as Sam O'Reilly) two previous novels, The Best Possible Taste and You Spin Me Round. In addition, she worked as a journalist and editor for Christian Aid and Barnardo's, and has written for the Guardian, Sunday Times, Evening Standard and New Scientist. Sally O'Reilly lives with her family in Brighton.
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Rating details

625 ratings
3.23 out of 5 stars
5 15% (96)
4 27% (169)
3 31% (192)
2 20% (124)
1 7% (44)
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