Flavia was born with a birthmark covering her face, in the shape of a bird in flight. Ashamed of her mark, her mother has concealed Flavia’s face behind a veil all her young life. But on the night before her younger sister’s wedding, she meets Ghostanza, a courtesan turned widow, whose white lead-painted face entrances Flavia, and whose beauty and cruelty are unmatched.Flavia becomes her ornatrix, her hairdresser and personal maid. But as white lead paint rots the flesh below it, so Perugia and the convent of Saint Giuliana is rotten below the shimmer of wealth and privilege.
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