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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.)
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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 QuinnSee all Editorial Reviews
Wonderfully written. Fully believable. As an English major who loves Will, and knows his work, this book gave me great joy. So thank you.Published 1 month ago by Liz Bleier
Slowed a little in the middle. If you were poor at this time your life was harsh. Living conditionals were poor, food was low quality. Read morePublished 4 months ago by margaret
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
Lots of information and really great reading, I would like to think he only had one wife but oh wellPublished on August 12, 2013 by IRENE ROBINSON
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 morePublished on June 21, 2012 by KBanks
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 morePublished on November 29, 2011 by Lis
Anne Whately has been William Shakespeare's girlfriend and lover since they were children in Stratford on Avon, through until his death. Read morePublished on November 2, 2011 by Richard Askenase