Book of the month: Wedding Shroud
Author: Elisabeth Storrs
Imprint: Pier 9
Book of the month for: September, 2010
In 406 BC, to seal a tenuous truce, the young Roman Caecilia is wedded to Vel Mastarna, an Etruscan nobleman from the city of Veii. The fledgling Republic lies only twelve miles across the Tiber from its neighbour, but the cities are from opposing worlds so different are their customs and beliefs. Leaving behind a righteous society, Caecilia is determined to remain true to Roman virtues while living among the sinful Etruscans. Instead she finds herself tempted by a mystical, hedonistic culture which offers pleasure and independence to women as well as a chance to persuade the Gods to delay her destiny. Yet Mastarna and his people also hold dark secrets and, as war looms, Caecilia discovers that Fate is not so easy to control and that she must finally choose where her allegiance lies. Exploring themes of destiny versus self-determination, tolerance versus prejudice, The Wedding Shroud is a novel that vividly captures a historical time and place while accenting the lives of women of the ancient world
Elisabeth Storrs studied Classics at the University of Sydney and has long held an interest in the history, myths and legends of the ancient world. She lives with her husband and two sons in Sydney and runs a consultancy company advising businesses on corporate governance. The Wedding Shroud is her first novel.
1. To what extent does Caecilia let go of her Roman ways and embrace her husband’s culture? Why did she find it so difficult to settle into the Etruscan society?
2. How did the attitudes of Romans, Greeks and Etruscans differ towards sex and women? If given a choice, which society would you have preferred to live in?
3. A great deal of political and personal decision making was left to the Gods to determine as a 'sign from God'. Did this appear to be a genuine and successful way of making decisions for a community? How do modern politics differ?
4. The Etruscans had a very different view to homosexuality. How is this examined through the characters, including Mastarna? Was this confronting as a reader?
5. At the end of the book Caecilia is faced with a life-changing decision. What do you think her choice will be? Why?