The daughter of a Venetian musician but orphaned as a young girl, Aemilia Bassano grows up in the court of Elizabeth I, becoming the Queen's favourite. She absorbs a love of poetry and learning, maturing into a striking young woman with a sharp mind and a quick tongue. Now brilliant, beautiful and highly educated, Aemilia is mistress of Lord Hunsdon, the Lord Chamberlain and Queen's cousin, but her position is precarious; when she falls in love with court playwright William Shakespeare, her fortunes change irrevocably.
A decade later, the Queen is dead and Aemilia Bassano is now Aemilia Lanyer, fallen from favour and married to a fool. Like the rest of London, she fears the plague. And when her son Henry becomes ill, Aemilia will do anything to save him, even making a pact with the Devil himself.
Sally O Reilly's richly atmospheric novel compellingly re-imagines the struggles for power, recognition and survival in the brutal world of Elizabethan London. She conjures the art of England s first professional female poet, giving us a character for the ages a woman who is witty and intelligent, true to herself and true to her heart.