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The Purple Shroud: A Novel of Empress Theodoraby Stella Duffy
Synopses & Reviews
Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore, Stella Duffy's chronicle of this amazing woman's early years, delighted readers with its exquisite blend of historical detail and vivid storytelling. Now, The Purple Shroud chronicles Theodora at the height of her power, bringing the ancient world alive in another unforgettable, epic saga.
Theodora and Justinian have been crowned Emperor and Empress, but ruling an empire is no easy task. The two factions of Christianity are still battling for dogmatic supremacy, the Empire's borders are not secure, and Theodora worries about the ambitions of Justinian's two best generals. But the most pressing concern is close to home: Constantinople's two factions, the Blues and the Greens, are beginning to unite in their unhappiness with rising taxes. When that unhappiness spills over into all-out violence, thousands are killed (including someone very close to Theodora) and many of the City's landmarks are destroyed, including Theodora's beloved Hagia Sophia. In the aftermath of the riots, Theodora guides Justinian in gaining back the love and trust of the people, her unerring instinct for what the people want proving invaluable. Justinian promises to rebuild the Hagia Sophia to be even more spectacular than before. Theodora comes to realize that being the Augusta is simply another role she must play, though the stakes are much higher and there is no offstage. It's a role she was born to play.
Erotic and absorbing Written with starling power.”—The New York Times Book Review
Nan King, an oyster girl, is captivated by the music hall phenomenon Kitty Butler, a male impersonator extraordinaire treading the boards in Canterbury. Through a friend at the box office, Nan manages to visit all her shows and finally meet her heroine. Soon after, she becomes Kitty's dresser and the two head for the bright lights of Leicester Square where they begin a glittering career as music-hall stars in an all-singing and dancing double act. At the same time, behind closed doors, they admit their attraction to each other and their affair begins.
"Lavishly crammed with the songs, smells, and costumes of late Victorian England" (The Daily Telegraph), this delicious, steamy debut novel chronicles the adventures of Nan King, who begins life as an oyster girl in the provincial seaside town of Whitstable and whose fortunes are forever changed when she falls in love with a cross-dressing music-hall singer named Miss Kitty Butler. When Kitty is called up to London for an engagement on "Grease Paint Avenue, " Nan follows as her dresser and secret lover, and, soon after, dons trousers herself and joins the act.
In time, Kitty breaks her heart, and Nan assumes the guise of butch roue to commence her own thrilling and varied sexual educationa sort of Moll Flanders in dragfinally finding friendship and true love in the most unexpected places.
Drawing comparison to the work of Jeanette Winterson, Sarah Waters's novel is a feast for the sensesan erotic, lushly detailed historical novel that bursts with life and dazzlingly casts the turn of the century in a different light.
About the Author
Stella Duffy is the author of four crime novels featuring Saz Martin, as well as two other novels. She has published fifteen short stories, several articles, has performed two one-woman shows and has had a stage play produced. She lives in London.
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