The Bearkeeper's Daughter

Gillian Bradshaw, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $18.95 (310p) ISBN 978-0-395-43620-2
Bradshaw returns to the setting of The Beacon at Alexandria, again producing a historical novel that animates an era. Intrigue, bastardy and godlike privilege emerge as the chief motivators in a fanciful tale of the Byzantine Empress Theodora and John, the lowly scribe who materializes one day and addresses her as ""Mother.'' Since he has clearly inherited her beauty and brains, he soon establishes himself not only as an impeccable record keeper and linguist but as an unparalleled military commander, defeating forces that far outnumber his own. He even manages to placate Emperor Justinian who, knowing nothing of John's parentage, understandably suspects Theodoraonce an actress notorious for easy virtueof infidelity with this attractive young man. There seems nothing to stop John's rise to patrician power, except his lack of imperial ambition and his devotion to Euphemia, an unsuitable young woman whose father Theodora has imprisoned. A happy ending is in store, however, because, just before her untimely death, Theodora admits to Justinian the truth of John's birth. Though modern vernacular in the dialogue may distress some readers, this well-researched, lively narrative delivers an engrossing tale. (December 1)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1987
Release date: 12/01/1987
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