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Mistress Shakespeare [Kindle Edition]

Karen Harper
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
You Save: $4.01 (27%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

A bold and intriguing novel about the woman who was William Shakespeare's secret wife, by the national
bestselling author.

As historical records show, Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton was betrothed to
William Shakespeare just days before he was forced to wed the pregnant Anne Hathaway. Here, Anne Whateley takes up
her pen to tell the intimate story of her daring life with Will. Obliged to acknowledge Will's publicly sanctioned
marriage, Anne Whateley nevertheless follows him from rural Stratford-Upon-Avon to teeming London, where they
honor their secret union, the coming together of two passionate souls. Persecution and plague, insurrection and
inferno, friends and foes all play parts in Anne's lively tale.

Spanning half a century of Elizabethan and
Jacobean history, and sweeping from the lowest reaches of society to the royal court, this richly textured novel tells the
real story of Shakespeare in love.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On November 27, 1582, the Worcester archives show a grant for a marriage license for one Anne Whateley and her groom, Wm Shaxpere. Yet several days later, William Shakespeare married a pregnant Anne Hathaway. Harper's slack latest takes this mystery as its subject, imagining Anne Whateley as Shakespeare's only true love. Friends from childhood driven apart by their families' antipathy, Will and Anne rediscover each other as they come of age, and the young lovers plan to wed in spite of their families' disapproval. When Will is forced into marriage with Anne Hathaway, Anne Whateley flees to London and throws herself into her family's business, but the two reunite when Will arrives in London, and Anne becomes his tireless promoter. The novel's chief pleasures derive from the easy intersection of Shakespeare's work, the history of Elizabethan England and the life that the author imagines Shakespeare might have had. Though the Bard's language infuses the story with life, the emotions underlying the lovers' ruptures and reunions feel repetitive, and because there is never any question about how the romance plays out, the central narrative feels flat. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Among the many mysteries of Shakespeare’s life is a marriage license issued to him and one Anne Whateley shortly before he wed Anne Hathaway. Harper spins this mystery into a novel about Shakespeare’s true love, the Dark Lady of the Sonnets. In Harper’s telling, Anne Whateley and Shakespeare are childhood friends, but after the Hathaway marriage, Whateley goes to London and makes a life for herself as a businesswoman. When the playwright embarks on his London phase, she is there, engaged in Will’s world and helping to advance his career. Harper, who writes a mystery series featuring Elizabeth I as a sleuth, knows her period well, and it shows, sometimes in the form of awkward expository dialogue but more often in sure handling of the details of politics, theater, and daily life, including some harrowing passages featuring childbirth and the plague. Though Shakespeare himself remains a cipher, Anne is an appealing and spirited heroine, and her tale will be enjoyed by historical-fiction fans. --Mary Ellen Quinn

Product Details

  • File Size: 647 KB
  • Print Length: 396 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0399155457
  • Publisher: NAL; Reprint edition (February 5, 2009)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001PYO3GW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,667 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
"The rendering of my thoughts, emotions and experiences is part comedy and part tragedy as well as history, for life is such a mingling. And so, I write this report of the woman born Anne Rosaline Whateley, she who both detested and adored a man named William Shakespeare."

Now comes the tale of the great bard of Avon, wonderfully humanized and told from a woman's viewpoint. Anne Whateley, William Shakespeare's first --- and secret --- wife, pens her story in five acts. More than a love story, it is a romantic chronicling of the writer's career, his greatest love and his forced, loveless marriage.

As youths in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Anne Whateley and Will Shakespeare were great friends. She had a talent with words such that she could inspire the poet even when he was a mere lad. The two sparred with each other by dueling with couplets, striving to outdo the other with their cleverness. They spent many happy days romping around the English countryside as children. Intrigued in the way of carefree young people, they slaked their curiosity by experiencing their world to the fullest.

But as they grew, so did their desires, and they found themselves almost unwittingly becoming lovers. Driven not by lust but by something much larger, they forever hungered for each other, feeling wretched in the times they were apart. Some people are simply meant for each other, and so it was with Anne Whateley and Will Shakespeare. But their happiness was not to be so simple, for another Stratford girl, Anne Hathaway, laid claim to Will as the father of her child. There was nothing to be done but for Will to marry her.

Heartbroken, Anne Whateley moved from Stratford to London, where she could try to mend her emotions.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable look at Shakespeare in love February 8, 2009
I know little about the actual historical basis for this novel, but certainly enjoyed this take on Shakespeare in love. Ann Whateley is a strong woman in the cast of Elizabeth I herself, and her independence and creativity serve as Shakespeare's inspiration for many of his works. I was less delighted with her willingness to accept the poor behavior meted out by her true love, though the author did do a good job capturing the duality of Anne's feelings of love and hate.

Will Shakespeare is presented as a flawed man first, undeniable genius second. His efforts to write while earning enough to support his growing family are complicated by the complex political situation that thrives on suspicion and uncertainty. In the end, Shakespeare chooses to live in London and to write with his love, but he never really seems to acknowledge the harm he has done to both of the women in his life.

At heart, this novel is a love story, and it succeeds as such. Unfortunately, Harper falls into the trap of attempting quasi-period speech and her efforts fall flat. I found that when the characters lapsed into period language, the entire momentum of the narrative came to a halt. If it hadn't been for the language, I would have gone 4 stars, but as it is can only give this novel 3.5 stars.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ...and it had started out *so* well... August 21, 2009
Actually, it had started out brilliantly. As someone who has a prolonged and protracted relationship with The Bard, I was constantly pleasantly surprised in so many instances by what Ms Harper was getting right, how dead-on her instincts were in this piece of gutsy speculative historical fiction. The premise made me grin. Her evocation of life in Stratford had me nodding my head. In fact, almost everything based in their (Anne Whateley's and Shakespeare's) hometown was lovingly related, and with just the right amount of indulgence.

And then the story moved to London.


If I had to be harsh...and I do, because if you're going to set the bar as high as Ms Harper did here, with Shakespeare (maybe the only way to raise the bar would be to write the secret married life of Jesus), then you better be prepared to take your lumps...I'd say that there are a handful of areas where she fell down. Stumbled...then fell down quite without any grace...and then crawled.

The first would be her tendency to spoon-feed. There are simply too many instances where she provides what amounts to 'exposition-through-dialogue'. And they all made me wince. Seriously; if your readership is aware of the backstory, you don't need to spoon-feed. And if they're not- Well, it's doubtful they're going to be reading it. (Of course, I could be way off-base, and be ignoring the notion that there's a sub-genre thing going on here, a smarmy, hug-yourself-til-it-hurts, historical-romantical-chicklitical genre... OK; now I'm getting mean. I apologize.) I've always felt that it's best to execute at as high a level as possible; those for whom the piece is written will be thankful, and those who have to strain to keep up will be rewarded in the end in unexpected ways.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From S. Krishna's Books February 8, 2009
I found the premise of Mistress Shakespeare very interesting, even moreso by the fact that, as the author explains in the Afterword, it seems to be based in fact. First of all, it is well known that William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway did not have a happy marriage. He spent most of his time in London, writing and acting in his plays. Harper surmises the reason is because he was actually betrothed and in love with another woman, Anne Whateley. Historical records actually support this claim; the Worcestershire Records Office shows that on the day before he was wed to Anne Hathaway, William Shakespeare was issued a marriage license to marry someone named "Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton."

Harper takes this small piece of information that most historians have dismissed as a clerical error and fleshes it out into the story of an independent and strong woman named Anne Whateley. Anne is a great character; she is feisty and funny and incredibly stubborn. She doesn't believe that Elizabethan England is a man's world; she takes her inspiration from the queen herself and proves that savvy and smart independent women can make it in the world. Her love story with Will is turbulent and stormy, but it is clear why these two love one another.

The book itself is full of rich, historical details about the time period. Harper obviously did careful research into Shakepeare's life; there seem to be a lot of in jokes that only someone well acquainted with him would appreciate. In order to fully grasp the book, it is necessary to have knowledge of Shakespeare's plays; otherwise many of the references contained within the book will not make much sense.

Mistress Shakespeare is a must for any fans of Shakespeare, and would be enjoyable for any fan of historical fiction. I definitely recommend it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Nice story. Behind every successful man is a complicated, smart, resourceful woman.
I can see how many of his books come from his own life encounters. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Singasentence
5.0 out of 5 stars love Shakespeare
Lots of information and really great reading, I would like to think he only had one wife but oh well
Published 11 months ago by IRENE ROBINSON
4.0 out of 5 stars Endearing Read
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. When I read a novel, it's for pleasure and it has to be pretty bad before I would dissect it for errors like some of the other reviewers. Read more
Published on June 21, 2012 by KBanks
1.0 out of 5 stars Great idea - "shaky" execution
The conceit of "Shakespeare's Mistress" is that Shakespeare was married to Anne Whateley the day before he was married to Anne Hathaway, and Anne W remained the love of his life,... Read more
Published on January 13, 2012 by Ripple
4.0 out of 5 stars My first Karen Harper Book - Won't be my last!
I was given this book by a friend to borrow and read. I didn't expect much of it so I guess I went into it expecting to find it dull. Read more
Published on November 29, 2011 by Lis
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful fiction about Shakespeare's secret lover!!
Anne Whately has been William Shakespeare's girlfriend and lover since they were children in Stratford on Avon, through until his death. Read more
Published on November 2, 2011 by Richard Askenase
2.0 out of 5 stars Rich period history, difficult love story.
This book centers on the premise that William Shakespeare had two wives. That first he married an Anne Whately, until he had to get to married to Anne Hathaway. Read more
Published on October 20, 2009 by CelticWomanFanPiano
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare's first wife -- and jazzed up time machine
"Mistress Shakespeare" is not a novel, it's a jazzed-up time machine Harper ferries the reader to the late 1500s, through the eyes of Will Shakespeare's disputed first wife and... Read more
Published on August 7, 2009 by L. Dean Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't put it down
After getting through the first 30 pages of this book I found I couldn't put it down. Karen Harper creates a persona behind the well-known words of Shakespeare and the love story... Read more
Published on April 29, 2009 by Tara Mcginnis
4.0 out of 5 stars Mistress Shakespeare
In Mistress Shakespeare we discover who the "Dark Lady" is and the influence she had not only on William Shakespeare's poems and works, but also throughout his lifetime. Read more
Published on March 18, 2009 by Candace Peterson
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