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The Ornatrix

Kate Howard

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Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

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ISBN 13: 9781468313826
Trim Size: 6 x 9

Product Description

In this exquisitely dark debut, Kate Howard delivers a stirring tale on the cost of beauty, packed with suspense and period detail worthy of Kate Mosse, Jessie Burton, and Tracy Chevalier.

Cursed from birth by the bird-shaped blemish across her face, Flavia spends much of her life hidden from the outside world. Lonely and alienated even from her family, she sabotages her sister’s wedding in a fit of jealous rage and is exiled to serve in the convent of Santa Giuliana. Soon she finds that another exile dwells in the convent: a former Venetian courtesan named Ghostanza whose ostentatious appearance clashes with the otherwise austere convent and sparks gossip throughout the town. When Ghostanza claims Flavia as her ornatrix―her personal hairdresser and handmaid―Flavia is pulled into a world of glamor and concealment where admiration is everything and perfection is the ultimate, elusive goal. And she soon finds that with beauty in her grasp, in the form of the poisonous but stunning white lead cerussa, Flavia will do anything to leave her marked face behind.

Rich in description and character, Kate Howard’s stunning novel is painted against a vivid historical landscape with themes and characters relevant today, tackling issues of belonging, female identity, and the perception of beauty.

"The meticulous research and rich world-building place Howard alongside masters of the genre like Sarah Dunant and Tracy Chevalier (though Howard isn’t afraid to take readers down more ominous paths). If the idea of The Picture of Dorian Gray with feminist leanings gives you a thrill, then The Ornatrix is for you.”

“Kate Howard’s The Ornatrix is a dazzling exploration of the meaning and conveyance of feminine beauty . . . At times morbidly engrossing, The Ornatrix is a powerful testament to both the wonders and pitfalls of feminine identity when entwined with ever-shifting perceptions of beauty.”
Foreword (picked as a Foreword Best New Release)

Kate Howard received her PhD in English Literature from the University of Kent. Her extensive travels throughout Italy, especially the Umbria region, inspired her fiction. The Ornatrix is her debut novel.

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