Monday, July 14, 2008

Pg. 69: Karen Essex's "Stealing Athena"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Stealing Athena by Karen Essex.

About the book, from the publisher:
The author of the bestselling Leonardo’s Swans traverses the centuries into the hearts of two extraordinary women to reveal the passions, ambitions, and controversies surrounding the Elgin Marbles.

The Elgin Marbles have been displayed in the British Museum for nearly two hundred years, and for just as long they have been the center of a raging controversy. In Stealing Athena, Karen Essex chronicles the Marbles’ amazing journey through the dynamic narratives of Mary Nisbet, wife of the Earl of Elgin, the British ambassador to Constantinople, and Aspasia, the mistress of Perikles, the most powerful man in Athens during that city’s Golden Age.
At the height of the Napoleonic Wars, the twenty-one-year-old, newly wed Countess of Elgin, a Scottish heiress and celebrated beauty, enchanted the power brokers of the Ottoman Empire, using her charms to obtain their permission for her husband’s audacious plan to deconstruct the Parthenon and bring its magnificent sculptures to England. Two millennia earlier, Aspasia, a female philosopher and courtesan, and a central figure in Athenian life, plied her wits, allure, and influence with equal determination, standing with Perikles at the center of vehement opposition to his vision of building the most exquisite monuments the world had ever seen.

Rich in romance and intrigue, greed and glory, Stealing Athena is an enthralling work of historical fiction and a window into the intimate lives of some of history’s most influential and fascinating women.
Among the early praise for the novel:
"Essex shines light on the women who inspired and protected some of the greatest art ever created, and the men who exploited them."
--Publishers Weekly

"A lively expose of double standards in two societies that prided themselves on democratic ideals and respect for women."
--Kirkus Reviews
Read excerpts from Stealing Athena, and learn more about the author and her work at Karen Essex's website and blog.

Karen Essex, an award-winning journalist and a screenwriter, is also the author of Kleopatra, Pharaoh, and the international bestseller Leonardo’s Swans, which won Italy’s prestigious 2007 Premio Roma for foreign fiction.

The Page 69 Test: Stealing Athena.

--Marshal Zeringue