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Shakespeare's Mistress: Historical Fiction Paperback – 10 Nov 2011

3.6 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (Fiction) (10 Nov. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091940427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091940423
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 295,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"One of the most exquisite novels I have read in a very long time" (Michelle Moran)

"a highly readable book for anyone who enjoys Tudor history" (Daily Mail)

"So vivid and authentic - a totally satisfying recreation of one of the great Shakespeare mysteries. I couldn't put it down" (Rosalind Miles, author of I, Elizabeth and Guinevere)

"Harper...knows her period well, and it shows...often in sure handling of the details of politics, theatre, and daily life, including some harrowing passages featuring childbirth and the plague" (Booklist)

"The novels chief pleasures derive from the easy interaction of Shakespeare's work, the history of Elizabethan England and the life that the author imagines Shakespeare might have had" (Publishers Weekly)

Book Description

A delicious and intriguing historical novel about the woman who was William Shakespeare's secret wife...

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By n7misc TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Oh dear. I hate to write a bad review of a book but I really struggled to get to the end of this book. I'm going to do my best to be balanced. On the plus side the author has managed to string together a reasonable story. On the down side - where to begin? The author has clearly done some research but she seems to be so pleased with this newfound knowledge that she forces it into the mouths of her characters in a way that jars - particularly in reference to the plays - lines from which she uses in the mouth of the main character in such a clumsy way I nearly threw the book in the bin. The entire narrative arc is ridiculously pat - the meetings and events that occur throughout (I won't detail them - I don't want to spoil it for you if this is your cup of tea) are far fetched in the extreme. I won't go on any more - in my opinion this is utterly awful writing - if you enjoy historical fiction / romance I would point you to Anya Seaton or even Jean Plaidy rather than this tripe. Sorry.
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By Skeadugenga TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 May 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Never mind "Romeo and the Pirate's Daughter" - this is "Will Shakespeare and the Italian tightrope dancer's daughter" - the story of Will and Ann (not Hathaway) his exotic dark lady.

Febrile nonsense - Will and Ann as kids making up rhyming couplets as they swing about the country on his big horse. Will as hero rescuing Ann from attempted rape. "My hero" she thinks. "I can't take much more of this" I think.

Ann, a modern woman in a "Tudor" world, moves easily between the classes, throwing on boy's clothing and encouraging her tussie-mussie selling mates to do so as well so they can pop over to Southwark and flog a few cushions to Henshawe, rub shoulders with Kit Marlowe and then another day live it up with the Earl of Southampton, completely at ease in his milieu.

Show - don't tell - "I am related through my mother to the Ardens who own a big park, seventeen miles away". "This was just like the situation in that play what Will wrote last year - "Much Ado" I think it was called".

Awful writing, unconvincing plot which basically shoves Ann as the unseen hand into every event we know of in Shakespeare's adult life, unengaging protagonists. Give it a miss.

If you want a good book about William Shakespeare, Will Will is at least well written
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By Simon Tavener VINE VOICE on 22 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Being a fan of all things Shakespearean, I thought this might be a diverting read with an interesting new twist on the story of his life.

Whilst it is a potentially interesting premise (that the dark lady of the sonnets was really Shakespeare's first love - the woman he married just before he married Miss Hathaway), the quality of the writing does not deliver for me. There is a very clear attempt to use the narrative voice to create a sense of period - and it does not really capture the essence of the language of the time. It all feels slightly contrived and arch.

This is further exacerbated with the dropping in of phrases from the Complete Works - this really jarred with me and made it hard to take the writing seriously.

If you don't take it too seriously, I guess this could be a diverting piece of fluff. If you have any interest in Shakespeare, his life and works, I suspect you really will find it just a bit too lightweight. I know it is not a piece of scholarly writing but the prose does not carry enough weight to do justice to what had the potential to be an interesting piece of speculative history.
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Format: Paperback
I had such high hopes for this novel. It's a book that I've really wanted to read given that I am interested in both Shakespeare and Elizabethan times. That's why it pains me to say that to be honest, it was a bit of a let down and a story that I struggled to finish.

I do commend the author for writing this novel and weaving a believable scenario out of something that has long been pure speculation: the notion that prior to his marriage to Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare married another Anne-Anne Whatley and the two of them had a long standing relationship until his death. This novel is told from Anne Whatley's viewpoint, her supposed `memoirs' of her time with William Shakespeare and how she was ultimately his muse and the real love of his life during his writing career.

The story has its high points admittedly: I found myself really enjoying certain aspects of the narrative including the evocative descriptions of both London and Stratford of the time- sights, sounds and smells become ingrained in the mind of the reader. I also found the depictions of the theatres and the theatre lifestyle itself fascinating. However, themes I would have liked to have read a lot more of seemed a bit `glossed over' in comparison. The Black Death for example, a key time in Elizabethan history and something that had a disastrous impact on London and its citizens surely warranted more than a mere couple of chapters? Similarly, the fire in The Globe deserved more than being stuffed in the end of a chapter.

The low points however overrode this story more than what they should have done for me; I found the characters a bit wishy-washy and to be honest, Shakespeare is portrayed to be a very weak man and I didn't like him or Anne very much.
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