Reviews for Life mask

Library Journal
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Donoghue's (Slammerkin) latest historical novel is a fictionalized account of the 16-year courtship of Lord Edward Derby, the richest and ugliest man in the House of Lords, and England's queen of comedy, Eliza Farren. Set against the tumultuous backdrop of the French Revolution and the chaotic reign of Britain's George III, the novel plots in excruciating detail not only Derby and Eliza's lives but also that of noted sculptor Anne Damer. Derby introduces Eliza to London's upper-crust society, a group so self-centered that they refer to themselves as "the World." She befriends Anne, and the two become close until rumors arise that Anne is a lesbian. Although Eliza does not believe the story, she coldly drops Anne's friendship. After a year, the two reconcile, only to have the rumor arise again, at which time Derby insists that Eliza break off the friendship forever to save her own reputation. Despite a rich portrayal of 18th-century genteel society, Donoghue's bulky account of this relatively tame scandal, by historical and modern standards, is unfortunately dull. For large libraries only. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/04.] Karen T. Bilton, Somerset Cty. Lib. Syst., Bridgewater, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Few sexual liaisons among the gentry went unnoticed in 18th-century beau monde England-the gossip papers of the era make our own tabloid culture look respectful-and though fleeting same-sex affairs were somewhat fashionable, suspected homosexuals were condemned to public humiliation and criminal punishment. Offering a fictionalized account of real-life scandal, Donoghue (Slammerkin) tells the story of three minor historical personages: the actress Eliza Farren, the Earl of Derby and the widowed sculptress Anne Damer. Famously ugly Lord Derby has been pursuing chaste young Eliza for years, hoping to marry her when his estranged, invalid wife dies. In the meantime, Eliza meets Derby's friend Anne and the two strike up a close, platonic friendship. Though she denies them vehemently, rumors of Sapphism haunt Anne Damer and endanger the reputations of everyone around her. Spanning the decade from 1787 to 1797, the novel follows this cast of characters through their complicated romantic and political entanglements. All the while, the French Revolution rages, causing major upheaval among the British nobility. Even as Derby and Anne befriend common folk like Eliza and support the liberal Whig party, hoping to topple mad King George, the mounting wave of European democracy threatens to extinguish their life of indolent leisure. Donoghue, who has written a historical examination of 18th-century British lesbian culture, Passions Between Women, has an extraordinary talent for turning exhaustive research into plausible characters and narratives; she presents a vibrant world seething with repressed feeling and class tensions. Agent, Kathleen Anderson at Anderson Grinberg. 8-city author tour. (Sept. 4) Forecast: The sensational thrills of bestselling Slammerkin aren't on offer here-there are many more earnest conversations than sex scenes-but readers who appreciated Slammerkin's emotional and historical depths will enjoy Donoghue's latest. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

In eighteenth-century London, beset with talk of revolution in Europe, a titillating scandal erupts around three public figures. Lord Derby, the wealthiest man in the House of Lords and the ugliest, is tied to an unhappy marriage, and his long, unconsummated relationship with actress Eliza Farren is a source of public mockery. Eliza, a commoner, wants nothing more than to enter the elite world of the rich and aristocratic. Her reign as Queen of Comedy at Drury Lane Theatre allows her a glimpse of the world she seeks, but with her reputation at stake, she is careful not to make any social mistakes. However, her friendship with Anne Damer may be her undoing. Born into nobility, Anne is a widow, sculptress, and rumored Sapphist. When gossip spreads that Anne and Eliza have an unnatural relationship, Eliza's world crashes around her. Based on the lives of three real people, Donoghue weaves a story filled with such attention to detail that it easily captures the essence of the time--power, intrigue, dirty politics, and erotic liaisons. --Carolyn Kubisz Copyright 2004 Booklist

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Donoghue returns to 18th-century England, setting of her best-selling Slammerkin, for this story of an unexpected love triangle involving denizens of London's Beau Monde. Based on a true story, no less. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.