Elisabeth Storrs brings us life in the Etruscan times when Rome and Veii (an Etruscan city merely 12 miles away)were enemies. The heroine, Caecilia, a Roman born from a plebian father and patrician mother (back then a problem from the onset), is given in marriage to a Veii as a peace treaty of the two regions.
Caecillia, having been brought up as a cloistered and extremely modest young Roman girl, is brought into a world that in every way contrasts her own. Married to Val Mastarna, a wealthy and very powerful Veii, Caecillia grudgingly gives up her life of purity in acceptance of the Etruscan ways. Not used to the liberty that Veii women enjoyed (drinking wine, conversing publicly with their husbands, ruling alongside, and enjoying an almost-equality with the men- all this unheard of in Rome!) - She was disgusted by it all…but nonetheless, very intrigued.
Caecillia matures into a new realm of understanding of not only the Veii way, but also about her husband and his past (a major part being the loss of his beloved first wife, Seitane), but there is also a coming of age and exploring of herself as a woman. Now dabbling in wines, substances and herbs, Caecillia’s discoveries lead her into forbidden realms…Her slave (another difference with Rome), actually became Caecillia’s confidante; whereas a notable courtesan also became part of her circle of knowledge. And of course, then there is the religious corruption- presenting Artile, Mastarna’s brother, the priest…
Mastarna, the typical Veii- and unlike his Roman adversaries, treats his new bride on an almost equal standing. He understands her reluctance regarding their relationship, their sex life and the Veii traditions. In his realm however, it is Caecillia who is the outsider. The citizens of Veii are non-trusting of her and shun her for the most part. Yet, Mastarna looks out for her and even stands up for her.
Incredibly detailed, The Wedding Shroud is a tale masterfully crafted that brings us not only the opulence and rawness of ancient times- but also a very different take on roles, cultures and traditions. Only twelve miles away from each other, who would have guessed that Veii and Rome could be completely different? I enjoyed discovering the life of Etruscans and their ways. It was also very surprising to see women being accepted as equals back then- a first for me! What a delightful change of pace for ancient times.
Characters, setting, plot- everything falls perfectly in line with what I consider to be excellent ancient historical fiction! I could go on and on! I recommend you get this - you won’t be disappointed!
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Come Back tomorrow for Elisabeth Storrs' Guest Post + GIVEAWAY Continues!!