Reviews and comments
In Lupa, Marie Marshall has created a poetic and intriguing novella that gives us a glimpse into the lives of two women from different eras. Marshall constantly asks the question: what connects these lives?
In the present day Jelena, an injured Serbian circus performer, is struggling with life in Rome. When she meets handsome native Vittorio, she cannot help but spill out to him some of the horrors held in her memory. As she develops a crush on Vittorio she grows to hate Rome and becomes obsessed with the archaeological dig Vittorio takes her to, especially the discovery of the remains of a female gladiator; it all seems to link so heavily with her dreams…
A girl in Ancient Rome has run away from her identity to join the infamous barracks for gladiators where she will fight for her life. It’s a hard lifestyle, especially for a woman in such times, but by training hard, and sickening determination to prove herself, she wins over the people of Rome to become Lupa, the howling She-Wolf.
It is no surprise to learn that Marshall was originally a poet. Her prose is full of passion and rhythm which carry you through the story. There is a dark atmosphere which runs throughout the novel, the feeling that something disturbing is just around the corner. Death and pain are written with such brutal honesty that at times it leaves you feeling raw and uncomfortable, but Lupa is the only balm you’ll find to heal it.
An enchanting tale, gripping to the very last page.
The scene opens with an injured circus girl, Jelena, with a bad attitude; alone and unemployed, a Serb in Rome during the time of the Serbo-Croatian war. Her life is going nowhere and she has seen too many atrocities. And into her life walks - Vittorio, tall, handsome and surrounded by mystery.
As Jelena deals with her demons, a second tale begins to unfold via an archaeological dig. A female gladiator in ancient Rome?
(To say "female gladiator" is like saying "female stallion", but so foreign was the concept of females in Rome doing the martial sports, that the word "gladiatrix" was only coined in the 1800's, by post-Renaissance society. A small but sterling example of how accurately this author does her research and applies it.)
"Lupa" arises from the dead, and we are transported back into the time of Ancient Rome, to witness how this gutsy woman holds her own among detractors and mainly, men.
How is Lupa connected with Jelena? Who is Vittorio? What about that mysterious medallion? What about the dreams, the dark psychosis, and Rome...?
You read some stories once and they never let you go.
This is one of those.
"South African Indie publishers P'kaboo can be very pleased to have secured the first edition rights to a first novel, Lupa, by the UK writer Marie Marshall, ahead of publishers in her own country. One of the latter has, however, taken an interest in her second novel, but fortunately this is not a sequel to the first.
Marie Marshall has already established herself overseas as a writer of poetry and in other genres, but has only recently launched out as a novelist.
Lupa is a book which one hesitates to describe in any detail for fear of spoiling a unique experience for readers. The realization of 'what the book is about' comes through in gradual and fascinating stages. Surprises abound, the first of which consists of a jump back in time from the life of a retired circus performer who fled from the conflict-torn Balkans and is now in Rome, to the life of a female gladiator in the days of the Roman Empire.
The novel is exceptionally well crafted, and shows evidence of meticulous research on the periods and settings. It is also most effectively presented on emotional as well as action levels. In fact, once started Lupa is difficult to put down. Once it is finished, one finds oneself returning to it, whether by rereading or simply by dwelling on the issues raised both by the action and by interactions between the vividly-drawn characters."
Lupa is available internationally in print and as an e-book via Amazon, as a PDF ebook direct from the publishers, and hopefully will be in bookshops in South Africa and the UK soon. For more information please contact P'Kaboo Publishers.
From other readers and reviewers:
"... a beautifully written, fascinating story about one woman (or maybe two) living in Rome and plagued by demons of the past. Marie Marshall packs so much information and detail into expertly crafted sentences; it is a joy to read, and I think it will appeal to a wide age range and readership..."
"... an excellently written story about two women years apart... definitely not one to be missed... hoping to read more from Marie Marshall in the future... "
"... I am blown away in more ways than entertainment... there is visceral power in these pages, legendary and practical in a myth making way... anyone who reads Lupa will receive an injection of integrity..."
"... Lupa is the story of two fearless fighters, two She-Wolves, perhaps the avatars of the same wandering spirit, whose destinies become aligned through the mirror of time and dream. The set of the two plots, none other than the Eternal City, casts its many shadows and symbols on both stories... I came upon this book quite by accident, while perusing the poetry section of a blogging site. The author's compelling poetry made me very curious about what her blog announced as her first novel and, indeed, I was not disappointed... Marie Marshall's sharp writing has a wolfish brutality to it that masterfully shape-shifts to raw emotion in Lupa's fighting scenes... Unlike Hesse's 'Harry Haller', the main characters not only accept but seek out the totemic wolf within..."
"... This magnificent story of the young woman Jelena, a Serbian immigrant with post traumatic stress syndrome, who lives temporarily in Rome where she meets the mysterious Vittorio, will grab you from the moment you start reading. The story meanders from present to the days of the gladiators, and while we get to know Jelena better and what happened to her, we also learn about the harsh life of ancient Romans. This book is very well written, in a nice pace, and the end is amazing! It really was a very good read, from begin to end... "
"... it was a book I read within twenty-four hours. The truth was, I just could not wait to get to the end. The novel is, I believe, the author's first, and what a splendid read it is too. Well-written and balanced, she demonstrates that she has superior powers of imagination, and more than once established that she has the ability to take words and instil into them new meaning... a powerful new voice... Marie Marshall..."
"... Marie Marshall captures two historical periods with realistic detail. The Bosnian War is one that is often forgotten, but Jelena's story ensures the raw emotion of war wounds goes down as something real and heartbreaking. In addition, Marshall's portrayal of Ancient Rome is vivid with the sheer violence of the gladiator games. Both time periods display the darker side of humanity, while Jelena and Lupa exist to defy the odds. Lupa means "she-wolf," which is a distinctive characteristic for both women. They share a connection that cannot be broken, for each lives within the other..."
"... Lupa is easily one of the best books I've read this year... Not many writers can successfully fuse two distinctive time periods into a seamless storyline, but Marshall pulls it off with both intelligence and finesse..."
More reviews can be found on the Amazon page of this book.
"...Such an interesting book! Can't wait to read more..."
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