By Karen Essex
(Anchor Books, Paperback, 9780767926188, 454pp.)
Publication Date: April 28, 2009
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Stealing Athena is the story of two women, separated by centuries but united by their association with some of the world's greatest and most controversial works of art. Aspasia, a philosopher and courtesan to visionary politician Pericles during Athens's Golden Age, defies societal restrictions to become fiercely influential in Athens' power circle. Mary, the Countess of Elgin and a beautiful Scottish heiress, charms the fearsome men of the Ottoman Empire to make possible her husband's costly acquisitions, all the while brazenly defying the social conventions of her time. Both women prevail yet pay a heavy price for their rebellion. A tale of romance, intrigue, greed, and glory, Stealing Athena interweaves the lives of two of history's most beguiling heroines.
Also an award-winning journalist, Essex's articles, essays and profiles have been published in publications such as "Vogue, Playboy, The L.A. Weekly, "and "L.A. Style. "After being awarded highest honors from the Los Angeles Press Club for her thought-provoking cover story about the missing 1950's pinup icon Bettie Page, Essex co-authored the biography, BETTIE PAGE: LIFE OF A PINUP LEGEND. Essex is the first and only journalist with whom the reclusive Ms. Page has ever agreed to meet and cooperate.
Essex has appeared on "The Today Show" and "A Word on Words," hosted by John Seigenthaler, as well as other PBS and NPR programs. She's lectured at the Chicago Museum of Art, and extensively at universities. Her books are taught in many college courses from creative writing to history to women's studies.
Essex's novels have been published in twenty languages. She lives in Los Angeles.
“Historical fiction at its finest."
—St. Petersburg Times
"A great adventure story. . . . Essex delves deeply into the lives and times of her characters in settings as diverse as ancient Greece and 18th-century Constantinople, France and Great Britain, and her women characters are spirited and memorable.”
"Stealing Athena expounds on the weight of the past, the power of art, and the strength of women who exercised free will even when they had the fewest rights…. Uniquely relevant."
—Los Angeles Times