Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review: The Wedding Shroud by Elisabeth Storrs

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: MurdochBooks, 2010

Torn Between Two Worlds

Rome, in 406 BC was a righteous , austere and male dominated society. Women were not encouraged to have a public life, to dine with men or dare to drink wine. They were expected to live virtuous and frugal lives focused on the role of wife and mother.
This is the environment in which the young Roman woman Caecilia has been raised but then, to seal a tenuous truce, she is married to Vel Mastarna, an Etruscan nobleman from the city of Veii. The fledgling republic  lies only 12 miles across the Tiber from its neighbour but the cities are from opposing worlds, so different are their customs and beliefs.
 Caecilia is determined to remain true to Roman virtues while living among the sinful Etruscans but as she travels with Mastarna to her new home she has her first glimpse of a very different relationship between men and women than the one she knows.
'For the sharing of the mysteries of a night sky and two cities' fates was something rare after being denied anything other than the warp and weft of a woman's life. Tonight Mastarna had woven threads of war and history and politics into the fabric, a fabric that usually only clothed a man.'
In the days to come she finds herself tempted by a mystical, hedonistic culture which offers pleasure and independence to women as well as a chance for the Gods to delay her destiny. Yet Mastarna and his people also hold dark secrets and, as war looms, Caecilia discovers that fate is not so easy to control and she must finally choose where her allegiance lies.

It is a growing-up story and it isn't hard to relate to Caecilia as she struggles to stay loyal to what she has been taught while her heart calls her to form her own beliefs. The prejudices and intolerance she faces in Veii also exist within herself and her marriage and will take courage and determination to overcome.

Political intrigue, a love story but what I enjoyed most about The Wedding Shroud was the history . While I have some knowledge of Rome I knew very little about the Etruscans and sharing the discovery of this ancient culture with Caecilia , seeing it through her eyes, made for a marvellous learning experience. The city, the people , the clothes and food, the gods and the religious rituals all came to vivid and colourful life and the book kept me engrossed all the way through.

Beautiful historical fiction - I loved it - I hope you will too!

I recommend a visit to Historical Tapestry where there is an article by Elisabeth Storrs Why I Love Etruscan Art - wonderful art and background history to the book. And Marg has added links to Australian bookstores where you can buy The Wedding Shroud.

Historical Tapestry ABC Challenge

W is for Wedding.


  1. I am so glad that you decided to post about this book, and that you loved it! I am really looking forward to reading it myself!

  2. This sounds absolutely beautiful -- I love a good historical fiction novel, and I really love anything that is set in Rome, so I might have to track this one down. Not to mention, your review is beautifully convincing!