For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright; Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.' - William Shakespeare, Sonnet 147 The daughter of a Venetian musician but orphaned as a young girl, Aemilia Bassano grows up in the court of Elizabeth I, becoming the Queen's favourite. She absorbs a love of poetry and learning, maturing into a striking young woman with a sharp mind and a quick tongue. Now brilliant, beautiful and highly educated, she becomes mistress of Lord Hunsdon, the Lord Chamberlain and Queen's cousin. But her position is precarious; when she falls in love with court playwright William Shakespeare, her fortunes change irrevocably. A must-read for fans of Tracy Chevalier (Girl With a Pearl Earring) and Sarah Dunant (The Birth of Venus), Sally O'Reilly's richly atmospheric novel compellingly re-imagines the struggles for power, recognition and survival in the brutal world of Elizabethan London. She conjures the art of England's first professional female poet, giving us a character for the ages - a woman who is ambitious and intelligent, true to herself and true to her heart.
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