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Life Mask (2004)

por Emma Donoghue

MiembrosReseñasPopularidadValoración promediaMenciones
8141927,371 (3.62)60
This is a gripping psychological thriller about a love affair that begins like all love affairs - in paradise. But this one ends definitely in hell.
  1. 10
    Fanny & Adelaide : the lives of the remarkable Kemble sisters por Ann Blainey (mambo_taxi)
    mambo_taxi: While one book is a double biography and the other is historical fiction, both deal with the precarious lives of female artists. Some characters you meet in their youth in Life Mask you meet again in their old age in Fanny and Adelaide. Both books are highly enjoyable.… (más)
  2. 10
    Los Huéspedes de Pago por Sarah Waters (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Intimate friendships between women give rise to scandalous rumors and interpersonal drama in these character-driven historical novels. Although both London-set stories are atmospheric and richly detailed, The Paying Guests opens in the 1920s, Life Mask in the late eighteenth century.… (más)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 19 (siguiente | mostrar todos)
It surprised me how much I had forgotten about this book—I remembered Anne Damer and her art, and the background noise about the French revolution, but I had forgotten all about Eliza and Lord Derby, and the British politics. Goes on to show what interested me most, perhaps. Nasty gossip and innuendo plays a big part in the book in how Anne and Eliza carry out their lives, but I'd forgotten about what looks like gay panic, and how long it takes for Anne in the book to actually find fulfilment. On the whole, I still found this book enjoyable. ( )
  mari_reads | Aug 29, 2023 |
Enjoyable and often fascinating novel by an lesbian Irish author about art, theater, and romantic entanglements in upper-class Britain at the turn of the 19th century. Thoroughly researched and full of great bits of social history, although honestly, I would have preferred slightly less detail on the politics of the period. (Not that the politics didn't make for an interesting comparison with current US politics, concerns about terrorism and homeland security and all!)

All of the main characters are real historical figures (yes, this is historical RPF), and Donoghue fleshes out the details from the historical record with fluid and imaginative details. These are nuanced and complex characters -- she does a great job of getting into the mindset of the era, letting even her most sympathetic characters express views that are appalling from a contemporary context. She does this with considerable subtlety -- never overtly passing judgment or providing an intrusive authorial presence.

Recommended for anyone who likes historical fiction or is interested in British theater or politics of the era, and for fans of Georgette Heyer. (Don't expect one of Heyer's neatly-resolved endings here, but do expect considerably more attention to queer themes.) ( )
  elenaj | Jul 31, 2020 |
As I read this book, the comments Jerry Seinfeld once made about his tv show came to mind: that it was "a show about nothing". This book is very similar in mood, tracing the lives of three main characters and the people surrounding them. Eliza Farren, the celebrated actress; Edward Smith-Stanley, Lord Derby, who was in love with Eliza but successfully held at arm's length for more than a decade; and Mrs. Anne Damer, a sculptor and mutual friend. Their intertwined lives and the scandals involving them are played out in London, against the backdrop of the French Revolution and the reign of George III. There is a great deal of politics, and that can be a bit confusing.
It's a long book and does have some very dry spots, but I enjoyed it. It gives a very clear picture of what life was like for the aristocracy in England during the late 18th century, and the confusion and fear overtaking them as social change became the main goal of government. ( )
  a1stitcher | Jun 22, 2019 |
Oh, I love Emma Donoghue! This is historical fiction of the best kind -- actually based very closely on fact, using an impressive treasure trove of journals, letters, and biographies to flesh out historical figures with imagined details. The tale of two female friends in England in the late 1700s, rumored to have participated in a relationship barely imaginable at the time. There is a bit of drag towards the end, but overall the writing is fascinating. I have been recommending this book freely. ( )
  greeniezona | Dec 6, 2017 |
At first I was annoyed at how much insinuated detail there was: the author decided to avoid an info dump about the 1780s of London by making every other sentence serve as a vehicle for a passing remark on current events, manner explanations, or political tensions. It seemed a thin excuse that the protagonist we first meet is an up-and-coming actress who is trying to pass for a gentlewoman, and knows little of the inherent topics of well-bred conversation. Eliza's pretty darn good by the time we meet her, so not sure this passes.
Also, the first couple narrator switches had me confused, since the action is still jumping about on the exposition and the setting details, and I'd barely registered the names of the characters before we started head-hopping!
However, most of the story was fairly gripping: the politic of the age dealing with royal debts, royal madness, laws of property; the shifting lines of propriety and class identity; the fabric of female friendships; the inner strengths and outer masks worn by Eliza and Anne. Very well explored.
The ending was not extremely satisfying, and I felt a bit let down/ nonplussed by Anne's 'transformation'. Not sure I bought it as such. But, lots of interesting things to think about, and some funny buts and thrilling heartfelt moments, too. ( )
  MargaretPinardAuthor | May 23, 2015 |
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This is a gripping psychological thriller about a love affair that begins like all love affairs - in paradise. But this one ends definitely in hell.

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