28 March, 2017

The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George Spotlight!

The New York Times bestselling and legendary author of Helen of Troy and Elizabeth I now turns her gaze on Emperor Nero, one of the most notorious and misunderstood figures in history.

Built on the backs of those who fell before it, Julius Caesar's imperial dynasty is only as strong as the next person who seeks to control it. In the Roman Empire no one is safe from the sting of betrayal: man, woman or child.

As a boy, Nero's royal heritage becomes a threat to his very life, first when the mad emperor Caligula tries to drown him, then when his great aunt attempts to secure her own son's inheritance. Faced with shocking acts of treachery, young Nero is dealt a harsh lesson: it is better to be cruel than dead.

While Nero idealizes the artistic and athletic principles of Greece, his very survival rests on his ability to navigate the sea of vipers that is Rome. The most lethal of all is his own mother, a cold-blooded woman whose singular goal is to control the empire. With cunning and poison, the obstacles fall one by one. But as Agrippina's machinations earn her son a title he is both tempted and terrified to assume, Nero's determination to escape her thrall will shape him into the man he was fated to become, an Emperor who became legendary.

With impeccable research and captivating prose, The Confessions of Young Nero is the story of a boy's ruthless ascension to the throne. Detailing his journey from innocent youth to infamous ruler, it is an epic tale of the lengths to which man will go in the ultimate quest for power and survival.
 
Praise for 
“EVOCATIVE” The New York Times •  “DELICIOUS” People • “SCINTILLATING” The Chicago Tribune • “ENGAGING AND INTELLIGENT” Kirkus Reviews • “FRESH AND VIVID” The Washington Post • “EXPANSIVE, THOUGHTFUL” San Francisco Chronicle • “AWASH IN SENSIOUS, JEWEL-LIKE DETAIL” Entertainment Weekly • “A TRIUMPH” Houston Chronicle  “A MASTERPIECE” Pittsburgh Press • “BEAUTIFULLY AND LYRICALLY WRITTEN” Baltimore Sun •  “IMMENSELY READABLE”Cleveland Plain Dealer • A STYLISTIC TOUR DE FORCE”  Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“If only history lessons had been like this.”—Cosmopolitan
 
“Extensively researched with the highest integrity, and deeply engaging, it sets a new benchmark for the genre.”—New York Times bestselling author Alison Weir
“George leaves us with the most coveted prize of fiction: a world. . . we wished existed, and that thoroughly does between the covers.” —Chicago Tribune

Margaret George is a rolling stone who has lived in many places, beginning her traveling at the age of four when her father joined the U.S. diplomatic service and was posted to a consulate in Taiwan. The family traveled on a freighter named after Ulysses' son Telemachus that took thirty days to reach Taiwan, where they spent two years. Following that they lived in Tel Aviv (right after the 1948 war, when it was relatively quiet), Bonn and Berlin (during the spy-and-Cold-War days) before returning--at the height of Elvis-mania--to Washington DC, where Margaret went to high school. Margaret's first piece of published writing, at the age of thirteen, was a letter to TIME Magazine defending Elvis against his detractors. (Margaret has since been to Graceland.)

But it was earlier in Israel that Margaret, an avid reader, began writing novels to amuse herself when she ran out of books to read. Interestingly, the subject of these was not what lay around her in the Middle East, but the American west, which she had never set foot in. (Now that she lives in the American Midwest she writes about the Middle East!) Clearly writing in her case followed Emily Dickinson's observation "There is no frigate like a book" and she used it to go to faraway places. Now she has added another dimension to that travel by specializing in visiting times remote from herself.

Neither of these horse sagas got published, but the ten-year-old author received an encouraging note from an editor at Grosset & Dunlap, telling her she had a budding talent but should work on her spelling.

It was also in Israel that Margaret started keeping land tortoises as pets, an interest which she still follows today. She had a great affinity for animals and nature and that led her to a double major at Tufts University in English literature and biology. Following that she received an MA in ecology from Stanford University--one of the earliest departments to offer such a concentration. Today she is active in environmental and animal conservation groups.

Combining her interests led her to a position as a science writer at the National Cancer Institute (National Institutes of Health) in Bethesda, Maryland for four years.

Her marriage at the end of that time meant moving, first to St. Louis, then to Uppsala, Sweden, and then to Madison, Wisconsin, where she and her husband Paul have lived for more than twenty years now. They have one grown daughter who lives in California and is in graduate school.

Through all this Margaret continued to write, albeit slowly and always on only one project at a time. She wrote what she refers to as her 'Ayn Rand/adventure novel' in college and her 'Sex and the City' novel in Washington DC. It was in St. Louis that she suddenly got the idea of writing a 'psycho-biography' of Henry VIII. She had never seen such a thing done but became convinced the king was a victim of bad PR and she should rescue his good name. Her background in science meant that only after thoroughly researching the literature and scholarship on Henry VIII would she embark on the novel itself. She sought the guidance of a Tudor historian at Washington University for a reading list, and proceeded from there.

It was actually fourteen years between her initial idea and the publication of The Autobiography of Henry VIII. The book made an impression for several reasons: first, because no one had ever written a novel sympathetic to the king before; second, because it covered his entire life from before birth until after his death, making it almost a thousand pages long, and third, because it was so fact-filled.

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