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Beatrice and Benedick Hardcover – 8 May 2014


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (8 May 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1848548001
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848548008
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 3.8 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 384,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Richly detailed and evocative . . . an unforgettable historical love story. Beautifully written and worth losing yourself in. (Candis)

Wonderful . . . hard to put down. A truly imaginative piece, both touching and delightful. The women are magnificent. I love that Shakespeare had a life outside Stratford and I will never see Much Ado again without it being enriched by knowing how Beatrice and Benedick met. (Jenny Agutter)

Entertaining and witty (Daily Mail)

Praise for Marina Fiorato:

Fiorato creates her own masterpiece

(Booklist)

Captures the scents, passion and vigour of Italy (Books Quarterly)

A great read (Best)

Book Description

The sixth unforgettable historical love story set in Italy from Marina Fiorato, internationally bestselling author of THE GLASSBLOWER OF MURANO. For fans of Philippa Gregory, Sarah Dunant, Tracy Chevalier and Alison Weir. 'Entertaining and witty' Daily Mail

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By P. Ryans Stokes VINE VOICE on 15 Dec 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It was a quandary deciding what to put here as although the author's love of the characters is evident throughout the story there are a few things that didn't make it quite perfect.

The story expands the well loved characters from Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing, a vibrantly entertaining version of which stars Eve Best and Charles Edward - filmed in the Globe theatre which gives an amazing authenticity to the play. The author references the more familiar film version with Kenneth Brannagh and Emma Thomson as the wittily warring pair. That staging can affect the atmosphere of the play indicates the problems might arise from a novelization.

While the author weaves other recognisable Shakespearean protagonists in to the story with some success and even vouches an inspiration for Shakespeare himself, the voices of Beatrice and Benedick just don't quite gel. Swapping between first-person point of view between the two, occasionally a quick check as to who is meant to be speaking is needed as they are almost too alike. It doesn't feel as though the era has been quite captured either although there is some great attention to details lost amongst the modern jargon. Beatrice and Benedick also lack their razor-sharp wit for most of the story.

This might sound off-putting but it is merely a distraction from what is an entirely enjoyable tale with an emphasis more on the romance than the war of words. It's an interesting take on a centuries old story.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have always loved 'Much Ado About Nothing' and, like the author, think the Brannagh version is excellent. This book tells the back-story of Beatrice and Benedick's tempestuous relationship as featured in Shakespeare's play, but the author goes further than that. She has also woven in the politics of the time, the Spanish Armada, the treatment of the Moors in Europe and, very cleverly, a number of other Shakespeare plots - including 'Romeo and Juliet'.
Beatrice is on a visit to her cousin, Hero on Sicily. While there a company of horsemen arrive with all the characters in the Play except Don John, who is managing Don Pedro's estates in Spain. Beatrice and Benedick verbally fence, fall in love, are parted by their own intransigence and some meddling by other characters and spend some time apart, each yearning for the other before they triumphantly overcome their differences by the end of the novel as they do in the Play.
My reservations about this book include:
- much of the dialogue between Beatrice and Benedick when they first meet is taken from Shakespeare's play ... I was continually annoyed by this during the first part of the novel as I was wondering what would happen when they met again? Would they re-hash the same conversations and insults that they'd already used?
- it is hard to care about Benedick's fate when he is swept away in the ill-fated Spanish Armada as I knew he would be back on Sicily eventually for the reunion with Beatrice or 'Much Ado' can't happen!
Although this novel is excellent for those who also love 'Much Ado', I can't help thinking it might be slightly better not to know the play very well, or at all in order not to be distracted by trying to match up the action and dialogue in the book with the Play.
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By Brett H TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Oct 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It seems to be very much in vogue to take the characters and tale of a well loved classic and weave a story around them. This differs from the more usual,however, by not being reset in modern times but back around the time of the original classic. In this case that is Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and the much loved characters are Beatrice and Benedick.

Shakespeare's tale hints that the two young lovers had met before, maybe had a love affair that had somehow gone awry before entering the stage again. This novel is about that previous love affair ,what ended it and indeed how the lovers came to be reunited. It is set in Italy - mostly Sicily and in the Sixteenth Century. The novel helpfully uses known historical facts like the launching and sinking of the Spanish Armada to lend some credence to its tale and its description of life in Sicily in this period is well drawn. At first sight it seems to have quite a lot going for it but sadly that does not last.

The novel is long - 426 pages - not necessarily a problem in itself, but this novel lacks pace so that you are left feeling more could have been better accomplished in far less. The characterisation, particularly of Beatrice, sometimes seems like a caracature so that she frequently appears facile. But the worst aspect of it for me was the broadening of the main tale to take in side avenues which paid court to two other Shakespearean classics, Othello and Romeo and Juliet. All becomes clear in the Afterword when Marina Fiorato speculates on Shakespeare's possible Italian origins. Perhaps he is meant to have learned the origins of the three plays there!

All in all a novel which started with an intriguing idea and with some creative twists, particularly in its use of history. With sharper characterisation and focus and a concentration on the two lovers of the title this would be a better read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. D. J. Smith VINE VOICE on 12 April 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If ever there was a play with a back story, then Much Ado About Nothing must be it. Here, Marina Fiorato has taken it upon herself to provide such a back story of how Beatrice, Benedick, Hero and Claudio first met.

For those who know their Shakespeare, this is a very intertextual book - this relates to the author's end note, which I shan't spoil for you now, but it's not hard to see bits certainly of Othello and Romeo & Juliet creeping into the story.

I found the story rather darker than I expected. Despite the misunderstandings in Much Ado, it is a light, bright story in the main - well, it is supposed to be a comedy! For me, not all of Fiorato's back story sat happily with the Much Ado that I know and understand - the portrayal of Don Pedro for one. That said, I did find this to be both a well written and compelling read.
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