Melissa Rose Bernardo
August 13, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Life Mask

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Emma Donoghue
genre
Fiction

We gave it a C+

Historical fiction fans will get their bustle in a bunch over Emma Donoghue’s paean to 1787 London. Ostensibly, beneath the Life Mask lies a love triangle involving the extremely unsightly Lord Derby, who desires the very lowborn but comely actress Eliza, who is sought out by spinster sculptor (and rumored ”Sapphist”) Anne. But no one finds love (or even, ahem, satisfaction) for at least 600 pages; instead, Donoghue gets bogged down with the politics of 18th-century Britain. And though the women are incredibly well drawn, Mask plods along, both fittingly and frustratingly, at horse-and-buggy pace.

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