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The Wedding Shroud: A Tale of Ancient Rome [Paperback]

Elisabeth Storrs
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

15 Feb 2013
‘All the drama and sensuality expected of an historical romance, plus a sensitivity to the realities of life in a very different time and world…’ Ursula Le Guin In 406 BC, to seal a tenuous truce, the young Roman Caecilia is wedded to Vel Mastarna, an Etruscan nobleman from the city of Veii. The fledgling Republic lies only twelve miles across the Tiber from its neighbour, but the cities are from opposing worlds so different are their customs and beliefs. Leaving behind a righteous Rome, Caecilia is determined to remain true to Roman virtues while living among the sinful Etruscans. Instead she finds herself tempted by a hedonistic culture which offers pleasure and independence to women as well as an ancient religion that gives her a chance 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 that she must finally choose where her allegiance lies. Exploring themes of sexuality, destiny versus self-determination and tolerance versus prejudice, The Wedding Shroud is historical fiction at its best which vividly brings Ancient Rome and Etruria to life while accenting the lives of women in ancient history. It was shortlisted for the 2012 Sharp Writ Awards in general fiction.

Product details

  • Paperback: 570 pages
  • Publisher: Cornelian Press; 2 edition (15 Feb 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0987340700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0987340702
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,343,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Elisabeth Storrs has long had a passion for the history, myths and legends of the ancient world. She graduated from Sydney University in Arts Law having studied Classics. Her curiosity piqued by an Etruscan sarcophagus depicting a couple embracing for eternity, she discovered the little known story of the struggle between Etruscan Veii and Republican Rome. Elisabeth lives with her husband and two sons in Sydney and over the years has worked as a solicitor, corporate lawyer, governance consultant and business writer. The Wedding Shroud is the first novel in a trilogy set in Ancient Rome and Etruria. It was shortlisted in the 2012 Sharp Writ Awards for general fiction. The sequel, The Golden Dice, will be released in 2013.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Shroud Worth Reading 21 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback
The subtitle of this historical romance is "A Tale of Early Rome," but it should also say "A Tale of the Etruscans." I always think of the Etruscans as a mysterious people predating and then overlapping with the Romans before disappearing from history--about whom, I thought, we knew very little. Elisabeth Storrs showed me how fully their world can be imagined based on the evidence of archaeology and ancient sources. From translucent silken gowns, gold embossed mirrors, realistic paintings, delicious spiced banquets, and gracious, brilliantly colored houses, the Etruscans lived in a style dramatically different from their boorish neighbors twelve miles away in Rome (this is early Rome, remember). The equality with which women are treated, the luxurious sensuality and celebration of life, including in the realm of sexuality, set off the Etruscan city of Veii from Rome's original identity as a place of modest, subservient women and tough, warrior men living plain, frugal lives. Certainly later Romans rarely lived up to their nostalgic model--it's not much fun as a lifestyle and when the Romans conquered most of the world they chose to live a grander, more decadent life. To some extent Storrs shows they weren't following their own righteous values even at this early stage. The contrast between the two cultures holds center place in this book about a marriage between a Roman girl and an older nobleman of Veii, Mastarna, a marriage arranged to seal a treaty between the two cities and viewed by the Romans as a horrible thing for the Roman girl, Caecilia.

Caecilia suffers from a severe case of culture shock when she arrives at her husband's home in Veii. All this decadent, sexually loose behavior causes the young woman to cling to her Roman ways for fear of giving in to this sinful life.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Shroud Worth Reading 21 Mar 2013
By Judith Starkston - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The subtitle of this historical romance is "A Tale of Early Rome," but it should also say "A Tale of the Etruscans." I always think of the Etruscans as a mysterious people predating and then overlapping with the Romans before disappearing from history--about whom, I thought, we knew very little. Elisabeth Storrs showed me how fully their world can be imagined based on the evidence of archaeology and ancient sources. From translucent silken gowns, gold embossed mirrors, realistic paintings, delicious spiced banquets, and gracious, brilliantly colored houses, the Etruscans lived in a style dramatically different from their boorish neighbors twelve miles away in Rome (this is early Rome, remember). The equality with which women are treated, the luxurious sensuality and celebration of life, including in the realm of sexuality, set off the Etruscan city of Veii from Rome's original identity as a place of modest, subservient women and tough, warrior men living plain, frugal lives. Certainly later Romans rarely lived up to their nostalgic model--it's not much fun as a lifestyle and when the Romans conquered most of the world they chose to live a grander, more decadent life. To some extent Storrs shows they weren't following their own righteous values even at this early stage. The contrast between the two cultures holds center place in this book about a marriage between a Roman girl and an older nobleman of Veii, Mastarna, a marriage arranged to seal a treaty between the two cities and viewed by the Romans as a horrible thing for the Roman girl, Caecilia.

Caecilia suffers from a severe case of culture shock when she arrives at her husband's home in Veii. All this decadent, sexually loose behavior causes the young woman to cling to her Roman ways for fear of giving in to this sinful life. Even the food is over spiced! To make an inaccurate comparison, she's a Puritan among the hedonists and she's terrified of temptation. This is an historically accurate juxtaposition, as far as I know, but it can be a heavy one at times. You may wish occasionally that Caecilia weren't so proud of her stiff Roman values. She does succumb to Veii in a number of ways--perhaps in all the important ways--but Storrs avoids a linear descent, forward a little into Veientane lifestyle and love, then back part way again, so this is an unpredictable and complicated tale. Caecilia's relationship with her husband, Mastarna, is a compellingly deep one, overshadowed by the gradually revealed story of his love and sorrow for his first wife. Mastarna's family--his mother, brother, adopted son, servants--is a rich source of flawed human beings who, with one notable exception, try to make Caecilia feel welcome, despite her prickly start. Along with the wealth of dramatic detail about daily life and macabre Etruscan religious rites, the interactions of the family and Caecilia engaged my interest throughout against the main story of the back and forth romance between husband and wife with its intentional frustration and grief. This novel pulls its reader into an unusual world where no other writer I know of has gone and unfolds an intriguing plot, revealing a little known corner of Roman history. Pick it up and explore.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Ancient Story 13 April 2013
By Piratesarecute22 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There are historical romances and then there are ancient-historical romances. The Wedding Shroud: A Tale of Ancient Rome by Elisabeth Storrs is in the later category. It follows the story of a Roman girl and an Etruscan nobleman in BC times.
Now, I like historical romances as well as the next romance-lover, but I have never read a book that took place in ancient times. That being said, I don't regret it one bit. Elisabeth Storrs obviously did her research and delved into the details of daily life in ancient Rome.
Caecilia, a young Roman woman is wed to Mastarna, an Etruscan who lives in Veii, as part of a treaty. The Roman woman struggles to adjust to leaving her pious city of Rome to live in a city where debauchery is the norm and she is an outcast. Caecilia is a young woman with insecurities, she has issues adjusting to the city of Veii, but I think she shows character in slowly adjusting to the culture.
Storrs obviously did her research into the lives of ancient Romans. The descriptions are vivid, making you feel like you are in an Etruscan city. There were some disturbing parts for me such as the barbaric sacrifices, but it wasn't anything I haven't heard in history classes, and it truly helps the story.
While I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to historical romance lovers. There is one thing that could be somewhat distracting to the enjoyment of this book: the use of ancient terms. There is a glossary at the end of the book and for the most part you can figure out the meaning of the words within the sentence, but to some it could be a distracting. However, if you can get past that, love a story rich in details, heartbreak and love, this is a great book for you. I will definitely not be shying away from ancient romances anymore!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read 6 April 2013
By A. Cotton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Engaging book, full of suspense, and believable characters. It's a definite must read and I can't wait for the sequel.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Male:Not for me. 13 Aug 2013
By Robert Weir - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This Book maybe OK for the female reader, but not for me a male reader of Roman History or fiction. It's 500 plus pages is not for me.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Wedding Shroud 29 April 2013
By K S Cook - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This story had the makings of being an exceptional book. Starting out sad with a forced marriage to a man far from her land the bride grew-up in only to find herself fighting with her own family demons. I just kept finding much of the story left me feeling like something was missing....after it ended I was sort of relieved but still wondering how she was going to achieve her mission in life....To be a woman to bring her people together???
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