In 406 BC, to seal a tenuous truce, the young Roman Caecilia is wedded to Vel Mastarna, an Etruscan nobleman from the city of Veii. The fledgling Republic lies only twelve miles across the Tiber from its neighbour, but the cities are from opposing worlds so different are their customs and beliefs. Leaving behind a righteous Rome, Caecilia is determined to remain true to Roman virtues while living among the sinful Etruscans. Instead she finds herself tempted by a mystical, hedonistic culture which offers pleasure and independence to women as well as a chance to persuade the Gods to delay her destiny. Yet Mastarna and his people also hold dark secrets and, as war looms, Caecilia discovers that Fate is not so easy to control and that she must finally choose where her allegiance lies.
Exploring themes of sexuality, destiny versus self-determination and tolerance versus prejudice, The Wedding Shroud vividly brings ancient Rome and Etruria to life while accenting the lives of women in ancient history.
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I was attracted to this book because--well, let's face it--something about ancient Rome endorsed by Ursula LeGuin is going to get my attention.
That was at about 11 a.m. I was leaving shortly because I had to get to the bank that closed at noon, so I would just download it to my Kindle for Mac and get back to it a little later. Well, maybe I'd just read Chapter 1 first. I mean, what could it hurt? There was still time to make it to the bank. But then there was Chapter 2 and then...how many chapters did this book have, anyway? I didn't care. I could get to the bank Monday. Ate lunch sitting at the computer. I did stop for four o'clock tea--briefly. Finished at about five. It's a good chunk of a book.
I finished more or less pleading with my computer monitor for the sequel. Tell me there's a sequel. Please. Preferably already written. This is an astounding first book by Australian author Elisabeth Storrs--one which brings to life the ancient Roman and Etruscan civilizations in glorious, meticulously researched detail. With a rich cast of characters and an equally rich writing style, I give it a high five and a whole lot of roses.
Would I run right out and buy this book?