Theodora, from whore to empress

The Purple Shroud by Stella Duffy is the squeal to Theodora, Duffy’s first novel about one of the most colourful and vilified women in history.
Theodora was born the daughter of a bear trainer and acrobat in Constantinople, yet she rose to become the Empress of the Roman Byzantine Empire.
Her contemporary and classical historian, Procopius, vilified her in his secret history as promiscuous and scheming. Duffy sees Theodora’s life in a different light.
Duffy’s Theodora is a smart, resourceful, loyal and passionate woman, wife, and ruler.
In her first book, Duffy covers Theodora’s early life as dancer, comedian, and acrobat. She also details the privations she suffered as she and sisters were forced into prostitution and beaten.
Through her religious conversion to Christianity, Theodora becomes close to influential church leaders who help arrange her introduction and marriage to Justinian, who is destined to become Emperor of Rome. The couple falls deeply in love.
As the Purple Shroud begins the empire is in turmoil, torn apart by religious differences, high taxes, age-old rivalries, and friction with the neighbouring Persians. Rioting and rebellion rocks the city. Theodora uses all her wiles and cunning to help save the city and man she loves.
Theodora is page-turning portrait of a woman who defied convention and triumphed.