My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An engaging piece of historical fiction, Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore took about 50 pages to get going. But once I crested that hill, I kept coming back for more.
Theodora's mother never wanted her to enter the entertainment world, but after her father was brutally murdered, there was little choice if the family was to survive. And like her mother Hypatia, Theodora is nothing if not a survivor. Her talent for dance is only average, but her penchant for comedy launches Theodora into a spotlight career
Duffy's fictional tale, which undoubtedly takes many liberties with the deeper aspects of Theodora's life, touches on many aspects of the sixth century, from politics to religion (which were deeply intertwined), and the acceptable roles of women.
Though Theodora's exploits fascinated me (I loved the bit where she takes up spinning - I myself have started recently to spin!), I was particularly touched by Duffy's commentary on the nature of relationships, from family and friends to God and spouse. These are skillfully woven and absolutely believable - not least because they touch a chord of recognition in me at some of my own experiences.
At 300+ pages, Theodora is definitely worth every minute.
This is a compensated review for the BlogHer book club, but the opinions expressed are solely my own.
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