Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hook Me: The Secret History by Stephanie Thornton and a Blogging Vacation

Title: The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora
Author: Stephanie Thornton
Publisher: NAL Trade (July 2, 2013)
Genre: Historical Fiction

Book Description: Where Theodora went, trouble followed…

In sixth century Constantinople, one woman, Theodora, defied every convention and all the odds, and rose from being a common theater tart to become empress of a great kingdom, the most powerful woman the Roman Empire would ever know. But the woman whose image was later immortalized in glittering mosaic was, in fact, a scrappy, clever, conniving, flesh-and-blood woman full of sensuality and spirit whose real story is as surprising as any ever told…

When her father dies suddenly, Theodora and her sisters face starvation on the streets. Determined to survive, Theodora makes a living any way she can—first on her back with every man who will have her, then on the stage of the city’s infamous amphitheater in a scandalous dramatization of her own invention. When her daring performance grants her a back-door entry into the halls of power, she seizes the chance to win a wealthy protector—only to face heartbreak and betrayal.

Ever resilient, Theodora rises above such trials and by a twist of fate, meets her most passionate admirer yet: the Emperor’s nephew. She will thrive as his confidant and courtesan, but many challenges lie ahead. For one day, this man will hand her a crown. And all the empire will wonder—is she bold enough, shrewd enough, and strong enough to keep it?

First line: I am She whom one honors and disdains.
Last line read: We quickly drained the cup of wine she'd left behind, both making sure to avoid the thick smear of henna on the rim.

Overall Impressions: I must admit I have a soft spot for historicals, especially those around the Roman Empire. This one is a bit beyond my expertise about Rome (I know more about pre-Christian Rome), but I enjoyed it. Theodora is a character anyone could cheer for. She's smart and savvy. Her situation is heart-breaking too. Thornton's writing is exquisite and real. I felt dropped into the time period without it being overwhelming.

Would I keep reading?: Yes!

***By the way, since next week is Thanksgiving in the States, I'm taking a blogging week off. I'll be back December 2 with a new book review.***