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Gillian [Marucha] Bradshaw (1956 - )

Bearkeeper's Daughter, The
Houghton, 1987

Reviews:

I originally read this book hoping it would shed more light on the life of Empress Theodora, who was a bearkeeper's daughter and circus actress/whore during the late Roman Empire (in Constantinople). Justinian, the emperor-to-be, fell in love with her, and shortly after they were married they were crowned emperor and empress (in the same arena where she once performed her circus tricks). Although Bradshaw's novel is a well-written piece of historical fiction, her story focuses on Theodora's alleged bastard son, John. The reader, along with John, meets a much older Theodora near the end of her reign. The book follows John's rise from scribe to army commander to consul of the palace guard, describing in rich detail the quality of life in the Roman Empire circa 530 A.D. However, it offers few glimpses into Theodora's childhood or her rise to power. So while it was a good read, the book's title is deceptive. -I originally read this book hoping it would shed more light on the life of Empress Theodora, who was a bearkeeper's daughter and circus actress/whore during the late Roman Empire (in Constantinople). Justinian, the emperor-to-be, fell in love with her, and shortly after they were married they were crowned emperor and empress (in the same arena where she once performed her circus tricks). Although Bradshaw's novel is a well-written piece of historical fiction, her story focuses on Theodora's alleged bastard son, John. The reader, along with John, meets a much older Theodora near the end of her reign. The book follows John's rise from scribe to army commander to consul of the palace guard, describing in rich detail the quality of life in the Roman Empire circa 530 A.D. However, it offers few glimpses into Theodora's childhood or her rise to power. So while it was a good read, the book's title is deceptive. -Larisa Moore.

- Larisa Moore, 11/23/2005

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