Friday, January 13, 2012

Upcoming guest post by historical fiction writer Elisabeth Storrs

This Sunday I will publish a guest article written by Elisabeth Storrs, an Australian writer whose splendid novel The Wedding Shroud I had the pleasure of reviewing a little over a year ago.

Her novel is set in ancient Rome during the period when Rome is just rising as a city state and the Etruscan civilization still holds sway on the Italian peninsula but is in decline. The story follows the young Roman woman Caecilia who is married off to the Etruscan Mastarna to seal a peace treaty. She finds herself in a very foreign culture. Everything is different. The food is different. The religion is different. The clothing is different. The outlook of the Etruscans is much more libertine than the sober Romans. Etruscan women have more freedoms. The sexual mores are quite different, and Caecilia struggles to cope with the radical changes in her lifestyle.

A pervasive element in the novel is the ancient pharmacopoeia, including recreational drugs, ceremonial drugs, and contraceptive drugs. I found this aspect of the historical novel quite fascinating. Storrs even had an afterword that explained her research on the contraceptive based on an ancient plant that was driven to extinction presumably because of massive demand by the women of the ancient Mediterranean world.

Storrs guest post on Sunday will explain this ancient medicinal herb called Silphium that is now lost to the Earth.

Until then, please read the review I wrote of The Wedding Shroud for Historical Novel Review. I highly recommend this thoughtful and rather unique historical novel. Since reading it I've often found myself reflecting on the ancient civilization that Storrs brought to life. Happily Storrs is writing a sequel.

Please come back on Sunday to read Storrs' guest post. I'm rather flattered to have it at my blog.