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Mistress Shakespeare, by Karen Harper

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Kasthu
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Mistress Shakespeare, by Karen Harper

Post by Kasthu » Fri January 2nd, 2009, 12:49 am

(to be published Feb. 2009)

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 much preferred this over The Last Boleyn.

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diamondlil
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Post by diamondlil » Fri January 2nd, 2009, 10:20 pm

I want to read this one! Thanks for the review
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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Sat January 3rd, 2009, 1:37 am

Thanks Kasthu. Is this the same author who wrote The First Princess of Wales? I had seen so many mixed reviews on that one I hadn't looked further into her books.

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diamondlil
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Post by diamondlil » Sat January 3rd, 2009, 9:59 pm

Yes. Same one. She also wrote the Elizabeth I mysteries.
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There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

Edith Wharton

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Ariadne
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Post by Ariadne » Sun January 4th, 2009, 2:01 am

First Princess of Wales was first published (as a romance with a different title) 25 years ago, as was The Last Boleyn. Both were among her earliest novels, so I wouldn't judge her current style by either one. I've enjoyed her Elizabeth I mysteries, though they did require some suspension of disbelief! (See the original cover artist's take on Joan of Kent here.)

I have an ARC of Mistress Shakespeare but haven't gotten to it yet. Thanks for the review!

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Cerridwen
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Post by Cerridwen » Sun January 4th, 2009, 12:05 pm

Definitely will be getting this, I quite liked The Last Boleyn.

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Susan
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Post by Susan » Wed February 10th, 2010, 6:28 pm

I've always thought of William Shakespeare as just a playwright and a poet, so it was interesting to see him as a person instead. I liked the premise of the book, but found the last part dragged a bit. Perhaps it was my impatience. I frequently get impatient with a book when I am nearing the end. One factual error really bothered me. Will and Anne go to Westminster Abbey to see the burial site of Elizabeth I in the Henry VIII Chapel. It's the Henry VII Chapel. Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York are buried there in an exquisitely beautiful chapel. Henry VIII is buried at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Perhaps it was a typographical error, but such errors should not be committed.
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