7 member(s) found this review helpful.
I really enjoyed this book. Very well written, the plot pulls you in. The characters are vivid and interesting. Stayed up late because I could not put it down.
3 member(s) found this review helpful.
This was a fascinating read about a woman who defies the mores of her time. Donoghue's research is superb, and her ability to recreate the realities of this time is wonderful! While long, this book was completely engrossing with strong parallels to modern politics and society. A great read!
2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Life Mask is a biographical novel about Anne Damer, an 18th century sculptor and contemporary/friend of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who has lately been the subject of a best-selling biography and movie. This historical era is extremely fascinating for many reasons - socially, culturally and historically, as it includes not only the American and French Revolutions (and several others throughout Europe), Royalty known for their foibles and illnesses (King George III suffered from dementia secondary to porphyria and often had to be tied to a pillar in the courtyard of one of his palaces) but also was a time when people, especially women of the upper classes, began questioning whether societal roles were as rigid as people had once believed.
Donoghue has written a masterly work, splendidly researched and well thought-out, about Damer, who not only challenged preconceptions about women with her work as a sculptor, but who also was well known as a lesbian and eventually ended living openly with her lover.
What I enjoy about the book is that is shows the difficulties encountered by someone who, over time, begins to realize that she IS different from others. Damer herself, according to Donoghue, lives in denial of her desires until rumor and social "excommunication" bring her to the realization that she is, indeed, a lesbian.
The book includes wonderful portrayals of Georgiana, Duchess. Donoghue seems to have an amazing ear for idiom as shown by the duchess' dialogue portraying the famous "Devonshire Drawl." Further, the hypocracy inherent in a society which not only allowed but encouraged promiscuity as long as it was discreet is made strikingly clear.
Yet, unlike many other genre works which come across as pendantic and self-righteous, Life Mask is written in a non-pretentious style. It is clear that Donoghue felt it more important to write an accurate portrayal of Damer than to "make a point" about lesbians and women artists.
Readers may find themselves searching the web for more information about Damer's sculpture and various portraits of Damer, Georgiana, the Duchess of Marlborough, etc.