Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review: Mistress Shakespeare

Karen Harper's novel, Mistress Shakespeare, tells the story of Anne Whateley - the wife of William Shakespeare. Wait, you say, I thought Anne Hathaway was Shakespeare's wife! What is this? Historical records from the church in Stratford-Upon-Avon show that Anne Whateley was betrothed to William Shakespeare just days before he married Anne Hathaway, and that they may have had a hand-fast wedding (just like Romeo and Juliet, hmm... :) ) This piece of historical fiction, though, fills in the gaps history has left us. In so doing, Harper creates a lifetime-spanning love forbidden love affair and sheds light on a wonderful, strong-willed, intelligent woman of 17th-century London.

I LOVE Elizabethan history, and any little bit I can read about it - I do. Shakespeare has always been one of my favorite authors and I enjoy finding out more about his life through both historical and fictionalized records. This was an aspect I hadn't read much about prior to finding this novel and I was intrigued.

The character of Shakespeare created in this novel is also very believable and really sheds light on the writings he produced at various stages of his life. Harper shows us his writings as greatly influenced by his emotions, and that adds yet another dimension to their readability and interest. 

Fans of Shakespeare, love, Elizabethan London, theater - or just good reads :) should pick up this novel. In it you'll meet a conceivable version of Shakespeare who's goal is to remind us of the age-old trope: The course of love never did run smooth...

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