Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore

Stella Duffy. Penguin, $15 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-14-311987-6
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Duffy’s seductive retelling of the story of the legendary empress Theodora will delight historical fiction fans. Introduced into a life of performing for the people of Constantinople, Theodora, a bear-keeper’s daughter, steals the limelight as an alluring child actress. Trained as a child prostitute, Theodora wanders throughout Europe and Persia in search of happiness and success while exploiting her racy talents, but nothing quite prepares her for becoming empress alongside Byzantium’s Emperor Justinian. Her magnificent comeback in her native Constantinople allows her to face the people who once shunned her, and they begin to see her in a new, respectful light. Duffy (The Room of Lost Things) presents a portrait of a woman who rose from misfortune and poverty to build an empire alongside a devoted husband. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/08/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
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