Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Purple Shroud: A Novel of Empress Theodora-Stella Duffy

The Purple Shroud: A Novel of Empress Theodora

Stella Duffy

Penguin, Sep 25 2012, $16.00

ISBN: 9780143122258

Early in the sixth century in Constantinople, daughter of a bear-keeper, Theodora became the star of the Hippodrome when she was eighteen. She gave up the stage to become mistress to the Governor of Pentapolis. When that tryst ended, Theodora turned to religion. At twenty-one, the Patriarch of Alexander Timothy sends her home to Constantinople to meet the new Consul Justinian. Shocking everyone, they fall in love. When Justinian succeeds his late Uncle Justin as the Emperor, Theodora becomes his Empress.

However two years into their reign, they know ruling an empire proves difficult with special interests everywhere and internal and external enemies probing for weakness. In Constantinople, rivals the Blues and the Greens unite to protest rising taxes. Their rage leads to terrible violence with thousands dead and landmarks destroyed. Theodora guides her beloved Justinian to help the people regain their belief in his rule while they grieve. Symbolizing their renaissance is reconstructing the Hagia Sophia destroyed during the deadly riots. Besides the riots, the Church remains divided and troublesome and other nations covet conquering Byzantine. Believing that life is a series of roles, Theodora plans to be buried wearing The Purple Shroud.

The sequel to the early years of Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore, continues the biographical fictional account as the married royals have sat on the throne for a couple of years before this tale begins. The storyline brings to life the Byzantine Empire during the early reign of Justinian and Theodora as they learn governance while dealing with threats to their kingdom and their rule. The Purple Shroud is a fabulous ancient historical tale.

Harriet Klausner

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