Thursday, November 3, 2011

BlogHer Book Club Review: Theodora

So my latest Blogher book club book arrived a couple of weeks ago and Nick saw it laying on the table.  Theodora: Actress, Empress Whore by Stella Duffy has the backside of a naked woman on the cover and the quote, “There is no end of the show business, court intrigue, and exotic sex. – The Guardian(London)”  on the front.  Nick laughed and said “That looks like book that will be an HBO series...”  I then opened the cover to find an info sheet inside that said this book IS actually going to be the newest HBO miniseries!  And you all, it's going to be awesome.

Theodora is the life story of Theodora of Constantinople, whom, in case you didn't know, became the Empress of the Byzantine Empire in 527 AD.  Don't worry. I didn't know either.  But her story is amazing.  At five her father is killed by a bear (he is a bear trainer...clearly not a great one) and she and her two sisters are forced to become actresses in order to support her family.  Once an actress hits the ripe old age of 12, she is also for sale as a whore.  The book follows Theodora from the age of eleven, where she is first sold to the big stage after six years of training, through her stage career which ended at 19.  Her story then follows her as she leaves the country, finds religion and eventually becomes the Empress.  Something which should have been entirely impossible for a whore, seeing as how in that day whores were not permitted to marry.

Now I myself would not say this book is full of "exotic sex".  Just in case you are turned off by that statement.  Or if you might want to run out and get the book because of it.  Either way, I feel that it is an overstatement.  There is talk of her whoring and what not, but that's mainly it.  The story isn't a graphic sex tale, it is the life story of an amazing woman from history.  In an odd way it was empowering to read about her, how far she came, what a difference she made in 527 AD.

I truly enjoyed this book.  I know that story are lost in time, and this book is a novel.  It is fiction.  but I did a little checking and the skeleton of the story is true enough.  Nobody knows the things that were said between these characters 1500 years ago, but Theodora's mark was lasting.  History remembers her story, and I am happy to now know it too.

We will be discussing Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore over at Blogher for the next several weeks.  Please come join in the conversation!

Also, just to keep things out in the open, this is a paid review.  But as always, my opinions of the book are entirely my own.  I would never suggest you read something I didn't enjoy.  I am all for honestly around here.


  1. Well this sounds really good and right up our alley, we need a good HBO series after Blood and Sand ended!

  2. Ohh, it is exciting that this will become an HBO miniseries!

    Empowered is a good word for the feeling left in you when this book is finished. Vindicated is another one. I'm also a loudmouthed, outspoken, but loving and tender woman. That Theodora could accomplish so much, be so loved, without ever truly sacrificing that spirit, is extremely gratifying.