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Review: Mistress Shakespeare, by Karen Harper


Mistress Shakespeare is a what if? story. William Shakespeare’s life was riddled with mysteries, one of which was that a license was issued for him to marry an Anne Whateley—the day before he married Anne Hathaway. So who was the other Anne? Karen Harper explores the mystery in this expertly-written novel, delving into the relationship between Shakespeare and his “first mistress.”

Harper is a Shakespeare scholar, and she’s in her element in this novel. You could tell she had a lot of fun researching and writing this book. Late 16th century London and its playhouses are described in exquisite detail, and the love story between Anne and Shakespeare is very real and not overly sappy or sugary. Harper plays to her strength—her knowledge of Shakespeare’s works inside and out—and she explores his inspiration for his plays and sonnets in some depth in this novel (though it might bore people who aren’t aficionados of Shakespeare and Renaissance drama). She also has a great knowledge of the way that people acted and spoke back then, and her characters never feel overly modern. Maybe Harper was an Elizabethan in a previous life?

My only problem with the book is that it moved a little too quickly from great event to great event in Shakespeare’s life, especially towards the end. But in all, this is a very solid, well-written and researched novel, about love that lasts forever; I preferred this over The Last Boleyn.

Also reviewed by: Foreign Circus Library, S Krishna Books, Devourer of Books

Comments

Serena said…
Sounds like a great read for me. Thanks for the review...off to put it on the TBR list.
Great review...I've been looking forward to this one and glad that it's worth reading! Thanks!
I really, really want to read this one....I'm so glad to read your review!
Teddy Rose said…
I love fiction about the people in a famous writer's life. I added this to my TBR.
S. Krishna said…
I enjoyed this one as well, though I do agree it did move a bit fast. My review.

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2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…