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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and unusual love triangle, 11 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Life Mask (Paperback)
Life Mask is an excellent depiction both of its main characters and the period in which it is set. The three main protagonists-- actress Eliza Farren, the Earl of Derby and sculptor Anne Damer, all real historical personages-- are well-rounded and thoroughly credible. The plot is a slow burner but worth staying with to see the way their stories intertwine and develop.

As a historian of the period I was pleased to see a broad range of familiar characters popping up to deliver supporting or cameo roles. Charles James Fox, the Duchess of Devonshire and Horace Walpole appear, and I loved nearly every single scene-stealing appearance made by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. My main criticism of the book would be that the political background, a major part of the novel, is oversimplified. A lot of technical terms are bandied about without the author apparently understanding them in context-- "Tory", "prime minister" and "liberal" for example. Donoghue also has a regrettable habit of making unsubtle and intrusive attempts to connect events of the 1790s to events of the 2000s. The parallels between Britain's reaction to revolutionary France and the American and British reactions to 9/11 are obvious enough without having to resort to using anachronistic terms like "weapons of mass destruction", "homeland security" and "terrorist".

These are, however, pedantic niggles and certainly did not detract from my overall enjoyment. I highly recommend this novel to any student of the period, and hope anyone unfamiliar with it will find it an entertaining introduction to late eighteenth century Britain.
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