Odyssey of an Etruscan Noblewoman

An Etruscan noblewoman undergoes numerous trials and tribulations in another work of historical fiction from author Burgundy (Tuscan Intrigue, 2005, etc.).
The action begins in a tomb in Etruria, a region of central Italy. Dressed as a man (women cannot be scribes), Larthia enters the tomb of her ancestor princess-priestess Larthia on orders from prince-priest Zilath, a magistrate for whom she secretly scribes. Zilath desecrates the tomb, but the honorable Larthia is blamed. Kidnapped and separated from her homeland and her family, she is exiled for years, journeying through other regions, including Phoenicia and Egypt. Many are drawn to Larthia; some scarcely hide their jealousy as various VIPs recognize her talent as a scribe. Enduring misery and defeat, she nevertheless expresses gratitude and patience, remaining self-aware and wary, inherently alone, eventually distrusting even the gods who seemingly abandoned her. Repeatedly, she pays for her abilities: “I knew too much, more than my place.” Pacing is brisk in this insightful narrative weighty with historical detail. In her misadventures, Larthia is raped, forced to become a courtesan and nearly murdered before ascending to service as a priestess. It’s an impressive arc that works on multiple levels, as Larth/Larthia/Etrusca (her various names) traverses land and sea, seemingly at everyone’s mercy, increasingly doubting her faith. She is used and misused, and her lengthy separation from her homeland drains her of vitality. Yet she is a feminist in the making—a woman of integrity, intelligence and presence who wishes to keep the secrets of her native land even as she is coerced into divulging them. It’s a clever conceit that allows for comparison of Etruscan ways with those of other cultures, including Rome and Egypt. A map of her cosmos is included.
A historically based survival tale of lost heritage, homelessness and empowerment that ably incorporates regional traditions, customs and commerce.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2005

ISBN: 978-1413416237

Page Count: 348

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.


A master storyteller’s character-driven account of a storied year in the American Revolution.

Against world systems, economic determinist and other external-cause schools of historical thought, McCullough (John Adams, 2001, etc.) has an old-fashioned fondness for the great- (and not-so-great) man tradition, which may not have much explanatory power but almost always yields better-written books. McCullough opens with a courteous nod to the customary villain in the story of American independence, George III, who turns out to be a pleasant and artistically inclined fellow who relied on poor advice; his Westmoreland, for instance, was a British general named Grant who boasted that with 5,000 soldiers he “could march from one end of the American continent to the other.” Other British officers agitated for peace, even as George wondered why Americans would not understand that to be a British subject was to be free by definition. Against these men stood arrayed a rebel army that was, at the least, unimpressive; McCullough observes that New Englanders, for instance, considered washing clothes to be women’s work and so wore filthy clothes until they rotted, with the result that Burgoyne and company had a point in thinking the Continentals a bunch of ragamuffins. The Americans’ military fortunes were none too good for much of 1776, the year of the Declaration; at the slowly unfolding battle for control over New York, George Washington was moved to despair at the sight of sometimes drunk soldiers running from the enemy and of their officers “who, instead of attending to their duty, had stood gazing like bumpkins” at the spectacle. For a man such as Washington, to be a laughingstock was the supreme insult, but the British were driven by other motives than to irritate the general—not least of them reluctance to give up a rich, fertile and beautiful land that, McCullough notes, was providing the world’s highest standard of living in 1776.

Thus the second most costly war in American history, whose “outcome seemed little short of a miracle.” A sterling account.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-2671-2

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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