Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by Stella Duffy

Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore. Stella Duffy. Penguin Group (USA). September 2011. 352 pp. paperback. ISBN #: 9780143119876.

Theodora of Constantinople is smart and sassy as a very young woman. She is not so pretty but what she lacks in beauty she more than makes up for with her decent singing voice, comedic acting abilities, and the ability to improvise when the show is going awry or some facet produces an unexpected audience effect. She has a fierce ability to put up with much discipline in her art, forceful teaching that at times seems almost abusive.

Her talents are acknowledged after one particular evening's performance, but unfortunately a selfish act on her part forces her destiny elsewhere, to a monastic community where she undergoes physical and spiritual training that transforms her life in a realistic, moving direction. No, this isn't a sudden conversion but a series of meditative moments that enable her to know who she really is. She is now ready to take on a more serious mission, in the middle of the Chalcedonian schism where authorities war over Christ's divine and/or human nature. Her sharp, intuitive nature however becomes even stronger until she succeeds in getting the position of assistant to Justinian who will soon become Emperor of Constantinople.

To tell more would spoil the magic of this well-written, adventurous, poignant, comedic, sexy, dramatic, and intelligent novel that reads like an in-depth biography, one sure to appeal to many types of readers with diverse interests. The descriptions of the people, food, architecture, theater performances, and more are so vivid that it seems that the reader is there taking it all in. Stella Duffy is a talented writer who carries the reader to many points where one is laughing, crying, thinking and rapidly reading with such eagerness that one doesn't want the story to end.

Theodora...is a must read and sure to be a best seller! Just wonderful!!!