Friday, May 20, 2011

Loving Will Shakespeare by Carolyn Meyer - Review

I have a total love/hate relationship with this book. I LOVE the fact that it is historical fiction, set during the late 1500s and early 1600s...I HATE that William Shakespeare turned out to not value his marriage, his wife, or the love between them - he more valued (obviously) his relationship with theaters, acting groups, and his acting career. At least that is what is suspected by people although there is no evidence really to support much of his life.

Book Summary:

Poor Anne Hathaway is still living with her callous stepmother, and her prospects for marriage and a home of her own are becoming grim. However, she can’t seem to get charismatic Will Shakespeare out of her mind—even though he is much too young for her. But then one day Will impulsively kisses his childhood friend Anne, changing the course of their lives forever.

Here is the story of the childhoods of and tumultuous romance between the boy who became the world’s most famous playwright and the spirited farmer’s daughter who became his wife. Carolyn Meyer has delivered a riveting historical tale about love, family, the pursuit of one’s dreams—and the price one pays for each.

My Thoughts:

I really did like a lot about this book - it's historical aspect, the time period, the language, and of course the connection to any important person in history. The story of Anne Hathaway is an interesting one, made more interesting because so much is unknown. As Shakespeare's wife, she is shrouded in mystery and that is intriguing.

The problem for me is in that Carolyn Meyer took what little information that is known about Anne Hathaway and turned that into this novel, which does not have a happy ending for her. I am in no way suggesting that a novel has to have a happy ending to be considered "great" but I felt so darn sorry for Anne by the end of the novel that it was hard for me to like the story. She loses her mother at a young age, lives with a stepmother that hates her, is betrothed to marry twice and it falls through, is facing the certain label of "spinster" when she falls for and agrees to marry William Shakespeare. This could have been a wonderful thing for her, but he does not support the marriage or his commitment to her, and that makes me not like him! And I so desperately wanted to like him...

Besides not liking how the storyline played out, this novel was really good! It kept me sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time and it was a quick read. Carolyn Meyer is well-known for writing excellent historical novels, and she definitely delivered with this one. I highly recommend this novel IF you're a fan of historical fiction.

Favorite Passages/Quotes:

"Better to write the spoken words than to be the one who speaks them. Best of all, though, to do both." (William Shakespeare)

"Men have strong constitutions," I replied. "Else Father and Tolly would have long since expired." From your efforts, not mine, I thought, but didn't say. (Anne Hathaway)

"My poems are mere scratchings. Your red cockerel, his foot dipped in an inkpot and racing across paper in pursuit of his favorite hen, could write a better poem than I can even imagine. Though I do believe I'm improving." (William Shakespeare)

Happy Reading!

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