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Shakespeare's Mistress: Historical Fiction

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England, 1601. When Queen Elizabeth's men come looking for William Shakespeare - a rumoured Catholic in a time of Catholic-Protestant intrigue and insurrection - they first question a beautiful, dark-haired woman who seems to know the famous playwright very well. Too well. She is Anne Whateley, born in Temple Grafton, a small town just up the river from Shakespeare's ho England, 1601. When Queen Elizabeth's men come looking for William Shakespeare - a rumoured Catholic in a time of Catholic-Protestant intrigue and insurrection - they first question a beautiful, dark-haired woman who seems to know the famous playwright very well. Too well. She is Anne Whateley, born in Temple Grafton, a small town just up the river from Shakespeare's hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon. And as church records show - were anyone to look for them - Anne Whateley was wed to William Shakespeare in a small country church just days before he married another woman, Anne Hathaway, who has lived as his wife for decades. In SHAKESPEARE'S MISTRESS, Anne Whateley - who may or may not be Will's true wife - tells her story. Stretching almost fifty years, from the rural villages of Warwickshire to the bustling city of London, with its teeming streets and lively theatres, it's a story of undying passion, for life, love, and literature.


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England, 1601. When Queen Elizabeth's men come looking for William Shakespeare - a rumoured Catholic in a time of Catholic-Protestant intrigue and insurrection - they first question a beautiful, dark-haired woman who seems to know the famous playwright very well. Too well. She is Anne Whateley, born in Temple Grafton, a small town just up the river from Shakespeare's ho England, 1601. When Queen Elizabeth's men come looking for William Shakespeare - a rumoured Catholic in a time of Catholic-Protestant intrigue and insurrection - they first question a beautiful, dark-haired woman who seems to know the famous playwright very well. Too well. She is Anne Whateley, born in Temple Grafton, a small town just up the river from Shakespeare's hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon. And as church records show - were anyone to look for them - Anne Whateley was wed to William Shakespeare in a small country church just days before he married another woman, Anne Hathaway, who has lived as his wife for decades. In SHAKESPEARE'S MISTRESS, Anne Whateley - who may or may not be Will's true wife - tells her story. Stretching almost fifty years, from the rural villages of Warwickshire to the bustling city of London, with its teeming streets and lively theatres, it's a story of undying passion, for life, love, and literature.

30 review for Shakespeare's Mistress: Historical Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shala Howell

    I ended up enjoying this book, but only gave it two stars because: 1) I put it down somewhere between page 30 and page 50 and didn't give it another thought 2) I finished it only because I felt like I might as well 3) Even when I started enjoying it (somewhere between page 100 and 150, I think) I was plagued by the thoughts of all the other books that I could have been reading

  2. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    History is not clear about Shakespeare - whom he married. It is accepted by most historians that he married Anne Hathaway. The mystery of Anne Whateley remains. The author weaves a captivating story of Mistress Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton, located outside Stratford-Upon-the-Avon, where Will Shakespeare is from. Anne tells her story, first of friendship, then of love to Will. They meet as youngsters. Anne notices early on that no matter what obstacle are thrown at Will; he is determined to be History is not clear about Shakespeare - whom he married. It is accepted by most historians that he married Anne Hathaway. The mystery of Anne Whateley remains. The author weaves a captivating story of Mistress Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton, located outside Stratford-Upon-the-Avon, where Will Shakespeare is from. Anne tells her story, first of friendship, then of love to Will. They meet as youngsters. Anne notices early on that no matter what obstacle are thrown at Will; he is determined to be a poet. At the same time, they are both determined to be together against all odds, but fate separates and tries their love for each other not once, but twice. After the death of her father, she moves to London, a place she has longed to see for a long time. Will remains in Stratford and is forced to wed against his wish. The loveless marriage drains his spirit. A trial of acquaintance at the Tower brings him to London, where their paths cross again. Anne is Shakespeare’s inspiration for so many of his works. His writing is also affected by shifts in power and conflicts, “…passions and power that can turn one’s world upside down and destroy destinies.” With his success he changes how players are viewed. “Will and his fellows had managed to help lift players from their reputations as impoverished, strolling entertainers to admired professional men.” Overall, Anne’s voice is very vivid and authentic. I have to say that the cover is very misleading. I thought it would be some vain historical romance, which I’d put away very fast, but I couldn’t be more wrong. This is a historical fiction beautifully imagined and written. This is a phenomenal read. @FB/BestHistoricalFiction

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ape

    Lordy, so many feelings in this book. So much emotion! So much like a stuck record. But I felt that I had to get to the end of the damn thing for some reason so I struggled through. I guess this is a kind of fan fiction, as the writer is obviously obsessed with Shakespeare and "name-drops" play titles and quotes all the way through the book. Maybe if you're equally as obsessed, you'll enjoy this what-if-there-was-another-wife- fictional version of history... it's fluffy, sometimes I don't mind a Lordy, so many feelings in this book. So much emotion! So much like a stuck record. But I felt that I had to get to the end of the damn thing for some reason so I struggled through. I guess this is a kind of fan fiction, as the writer is obviously obsessed with Shakespeare and "name-drops" play titles and quotes all the way through the book. Maybe if you're equally as obsessed, you'll enjoy this what-if-there-was-another-wife- fictional version of history... it's fluffy, sometimes I don't mind a bit of fluff, but this was just repetitive. I mean, part of the thing is that he originally married the Anne Whatley, narrator of this book, and then the next day was forced to marry Anne Hathaway because he'd got her pregnant. This is about when our Anne was 18. DECADES after this event she still has sudden hysterical sobbing fits and screams of "I hate him!" as if she's only just realised that he has another wife. We have the same sodding tantrums again and again throughout the book. Can anyone really nurse a broken heart that long and that intensely???? Then there's cheesey lines all over the place. One moment I remember when she's sneaking out of a house and kind of trips out of the window and tumbles on the ground outside. She makes this comment that she got away ok, no broken bones, but her heart was still broken. So we have pathetic Anne (who swings from crying and being angry with him, to this kind of groupie running around doing good for him); to evil 2D snooty Anne - Anne Hathaway, who is painted as this ignorant, moody selfish old cow who has entrapped poor old Will even though neither of them like each other. And she's knowingly done it to keep the lovers apart. To be honest, Will didn't come out too great in my eyes, which is odd for something that feels like Shakespeare fan fiction. He was a selfish, jealous arsehole, who kept stringing our heroine Anne on for decades; never letting her go to get on with her life, but quite happy to have her running around after him, always on pause until he would next grace her with his presence, even though he was married to another woman and had several kids with her. And Christopher Marlowe doesn't come off well either as a nasty lecherous git. I don't really know enough about the period to comment on whether this is true to what records said of him or not.

  4. 5 out of 5

    LeAnn

    I enjoyed this "what-if" drawn from a single line in a legal register from 1582 that had Shakespeare applying for a marriage bond to a woman named Anne Whately the day before he applied for one for Anne Hathaway, who was pregnant. Harper, assuming that the first Anne was no mistake and was a love match, imagines what might have happened if Shakespeare had two wives. Having recently read Peter Ackroyd's biography of Shakespeare, I recognized many of the details known about his life and milieu as I enjoyed this "what-if" drawn from a single line in a legal register from 1582 that had Shakespeare applying for a marriage bond to a woman named Anne Whately the day before he applied for one for Anne Hathaway, who was pregnant. Harper, assuming that the first Anne was no mistake and was a love match, imagines what might have happened if Shakespeare had two wives. Having recently read Peter Ackroyd's biography of Shakespeare, I recognized many of the details known about his life and milieu as well as the Ackroyd's influence in guessing at Shakespeare's character. Harper mentions two other scholars who have previously argued for a second wife, so it's an old theory -- one with some teeth, given what little we do know about him. Unlike others in the London drama scene at that time, for example, Shakespeare was singularly focused and not known for wild living. Having a London wife would explain his lack of general carousing. Still, I would have liked for a story with a bit more grandeur and sweep. After all, this was the Elizabethan age and Shakespeare.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This is quite possibly one of the worst books I have ever started to read. The author clearly thinks that her audience has no grasp of the period key people or events of the reign of Elizabeth I. Here's the thing if you choose to read Historical Fiction for a certain period there is an extremely high chance that the reader will have an interest in there period. In my case an undergrad thesis. I found the tone patronizing. Key figures over explained and if you need to explain what a summer progre This is quite possibly one of the worst books I have ever started to read. The author clearly thinks that her audience has no grasp of the period key people or events of the reign of Elizabeth I. Here's the thing if you choose to read Historical Fiction for a certain period there is an extremely high chance that the reader will have an interest in there period. In my case an undergrad thesis. I found the tone patronizing. Key figures over explained and if you need to explain what a summer progress is then you clearly do not know your target audience. Other notible authors who write historical fiction, within this period manage quite well and respect their readers enough to not have to speak down to them as if they were ignorant. If you a regular reader and have adverage IQ and no degree in History you can still understand their work. If I wanted to read Turdor Fiction from Sesame Street I would turn to a school text book. Highly disappointing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    I received this book as a First Reads giveaway. First things first...the cover is beautiful! Karen Harper is an excellent storyteller. She gave a unique and credible voice to Anne Whately, the first wife of William Shakespeare. It spans almost 50 years, from the time Anne and Will met as children up until middle age, when he had reached the height of him his fame. The descriptions of London, Temple Grafton, and Warwickshire were incredible. The relationship dynamics between Anne and Will were so I received this book as a First Reads giveaway. First things first...the cover is beautiful! Karen Harper is an excellent storyteller. She gave a unique and credible voice to Anne Whately, the first wife of William Shakespeare. It spans almost 50 years, from the time Anne and Will met as children up until middle age, when he had reached the height of him his fame. The descriptions of London, Temple Grafton, and Warwickshire were incredible. The relationship dynamics between Anne and Will were so *real*...it wasn't a fairytale, it was the tale of two people who were destined to be together but circumstances prevented it again and again. For Shakespeare fans (which, admittedly, I'm fascinated by his life but not big fan of his work), for history buffs, and for those that love passion, love, and literature...check it out. Thank you, GR, and Karen Harper for the copy of this novel! :) It was even signed to me personally, which was just amazing.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    An interesting book, with an entertaining slant on how Shakespeare was inspired to write his plays and characters. Told from the perspective of his 'other wife', Anne Whateley; portrayed as his muse. I certainly appreciated how certain things were explained (such as Shakespeare's mumps and the 'other' Anne's lack of pregnancy). The story, however, didn't particularly captivate me. Anne's telling of his life was at times a little droning - especially in the first few chapters. I think it'd be a ver An interesting book, with an entertaining slant on how Shakespeare was inspired to write his plays and characters. Told from the perspective of his 'other wife', Anne Whateley; portrayed as his muse. I certainly appreciated how certain things were explained (such as Shakespeare's mumps and the 'other' Anne's lack of pregnancy). The story, however, didn't particularly captivate me. Anne's telling of his life was at times a little droning - especially in the first few chapters. I think it'd be a very good book if you enjoy romances (I don't).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    As always, Karen Harper takes on a subject that while seeming small or inconsequential, has the potential to be larger than life. Sometimes, she nails her subject, as she did in her novel The Last Boleyn, but in the case of Mistress Shakespeare, I did not quite catch the same spark, the same magic that I did in her other novel. (view spoiler)[While it was interesting that Harper managed to weave many of Shakespeare's plays and poems and sonnets into the story, showing how the heroine of the novel As always, Karen Harper takes on a subject that while seeming small or inconsequential, has the potential to be larger than life. Sometimes, she nails her subject, as she did in her novel The Last Boleyn, but in the case of Mistress Shakespeare, I did not quite catch the same spark, the same magic that I did in her other novel. (view spoiler)[While it was interesting that Harper managed to weave many of Shakespeare's plays and poems and sonnets into the story, showing how the heroine of the novel, Anne, was the inspiration for much of Shakespeare's work, I just did not become that attached to Anne or Will. Normally, I don't have too much of a problem remembering that I'm reading a novel set in a certain historical time period and thus the author will restrict her characters' behavior to what is the norm for that period. In the case of Mistress Shakespeare, though, I just found that I had less and less patience for Anne and Will the more of the novel that I read. The repetition of their behavior -- sickeningly in love, then growing jealous and irritated with one another, prompting a huge blow up, followed by a period of estrangement before they get back together again, rinse and repeat -- grew annoying very quickly. Will's frequent jealousy every time Anne so much as glanced at another man was especially irritating. I didn't find his behavior romantic at all, and him writing a few sonnets or basing another heroine on Anne doesn't do anything to make up for him being a jealous bastard. These gripes aside, there were a few things about the story that I did like. Anne's loyalty to Queen Elizabeth, for all Her Majesty's flaws, was wonderful to read, as was the dangerous and frightening birthing scene with Jennet. It was a great reminder just how fraught with danger things like childbirth was for a woman in this time period. I also enjoyed Anne's relationship with Will's eldest daughter, Susannah. I enjoyed the irony of it, that it was Susannah's conception that prevented Anne and Will from making their marriage public and how Anne later came to become something of a friend to Susannah anyway, testifying for her and even introducing her to her future husband. So yes, there were a few moments that I enjoyed about this book. However, I really think that the book doesn't really have the same magic that some of Harper's other works has. (hide spoiler)]

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sharen

    Very enjoyable! Karen Harper does excellent research.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    Karen Harper set herself a challenging task: to balance the historical record of who William Shakespeare was with her speculation about a second Anne in his life, the Anne Whately who may have been a typo, but who Harper posits as a real person. Also, she had to write a story about Shakespeare without the connection to his writings feeling contrived or too neatly wrapped up. Third, she had to depict about 50 years in time without it feeling like a summary. In the second and third tasks, I feel s Karen Harper set herself a challenging task: to balance the historical record of who William Shakespeare was with her speculation about a second Anne in his life, the Anne Whately who may have been a typo, but who Harper posits as a real person. Also, she had to write a story about Shakespeare without the connection to his writings feeling contrived or too neatly wrapped up. Third, she had to depict about 50 years in time without it feeling like a summary. In the second and third tasks, I feel she succeeded, though only just. In the first, I can only comment on the things that stood out to me. I am no Shakespeare scholar, but I'm well aware that Shakespeare wasn't appreciated in his time. He was successful, which was why his plays survived, but he was far more looked down on than this novel suggests. I understand why Anne might gush on and on about his "genius," but that no one rolls his eyes at her irked me. In retrospect, we see his genius, but people of his time didn't all embrace him, and that glossing-over bothered me. The idea of a writer gaining inspiration or coming up with character traits or lines felt true to me. Most writers will describe taking just bits and pieces of real life to put into their writing, and never cleaving anything off to shove in whole. So that the Will Shakespeare of this novel commented on only finding inspiration from his Anne and his personal trials felt real enough, and that it gave the author wiggle room to keep from having to write out his play's plots scene by scene probably helped free up a lot of the narrative. Still, there were times when the inspiration felt a bit pat, or like the inspiration was shoehorned in. The timeline often confused me, though that may have been the fault of the audiobook. Maybe the text has some white space between events and timeskips. But it would seem to me, listening to the audio version, that one minute they'd be talking or arguing, and the next it would be five years later. Due to the timeline, I was often curious why one event or another would stick out in Anne's mind, and then weeks, months, or years would pass before anything more stuck out to her. Often, the events seemed like they weren't particularly memorable. Also, Anne often promises things about upcoming scenes that she fails to deliver. She apologizes for the upcoming scene of the first time she meets Will Shakespeare, but it seemed quite memorable for meeting the love of one's life, to me. She promises that the next time she sees her Will, she's much changed, but I never detected any difference. I think that the book could've been written better, but it was enjoyable enough, and I didn't yell at it, like I often do with Shakespeare retcons. And so, if you like historical romance with minimal sex (oh, they have plenty of it, but everything is left to the imagination) and the idea of Shakespeare having a second wife doesn't repulse you, you may enjoy this. Don't expect a rehash of any of his plays, though. Harper weaves in elements of Shakespeare's play without offering us a blatant ripoff, and I appreciated that much originality.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Smitha

    I seem to be going through an Elizabethan phase, I’ve been picking up so many books from this era. The fact that Shakespeare had married Anne Hathaway is a well known fact. What is not so well-known is that there is two days before Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, there exists a permission for him to marry Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton, a place close to Stratford-Upon-Avon. Two days later, some family friends of Anne Hathaway seem to have placed a bond for Shakespeare to marry Anne Hathaway S I seem to be going through an Elizabethan phase, I’ve been picking up so many books from this era. The fact that Shakespeare had married Anne Hathaway is a well known fact. What is not so well-known is that there is two days before Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, there exists a permission for him to marry Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton, a place close to Stratford-Upon-Avon. Two days later, some family friends of Anne Hathaway seem to have placed a bond for Shakespeare to marry Anne Hathaway Scholars have generally dismissed it as a clerical error but what if it weren’t? What if, Anne Whateley was a real person. What if, she was in reality Shakespeare’s muse and secret love. The person he wrote those sonnets for. What if Shakespeare was forced to marry Anne Hathaway because she became pregnant, while being in love with someone else all through? Karen Harper uses that bit of fact and weaves a story around it. The story is told by Anne Whateley, from the time they met, as children to the time of Shakespeare’s death. It’s a believable tale. One can imagine how things happened, and how their love stood the test of time. Harper’s words transport you into that time. You are right there, with Anne as she tests her boundaries, takes up challenges and lives her life on her own terms. Anne Whateley comes across as a strong person, although it does make you wonder why she accepts the her role in Shakespeare’s life. All she really wanted was to be known as Mistress Shakespeare, but all her life, she hides away, in London, supporting Shakespeare in any way she can, all the while, knowing that for the world, Mistress Shakespeare is another Anne, in Stratford. Another book where it is difficult to figure out where the fact ends and fiction begins. Harper has taken facts and beautifully interwoven them with fiction. She has also, very clearly, used pieces from Shakespeare’s plays in the book, so very naturally, that it looks entirely possible that Anne Whateley was indeed the person, that Harper has built up for us. It had me turning to Google to find out more. A book that makes you wonder if the historians have actually missed something that was staring at their faces. A wonderful read, if you like historical fiction.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mercedes Rochelle

    Mistress Shakespeare was such a compelling title I couldn’t resist giving it a look. Checking the Author’s Note ahead of time (which I often do), I was surprised and intrigued to see that there is documentary evidence that William Shakespeare contracted to marry another woman the day before he was wed to Anne Hathaway. What a tantalizing opening for a historical novel! Shakespeare’s secret wife—another Anne—writes this book as a memoir, telling us about her love/hate relationship with the boy sh Mistress Shakespeare was such a compelling title I couldn’t resist giving it a look. Checking the Author’s Note ahead of time (which I often do), I was surprised and intrigued to see that there is documentary evidence that William Shakespeare contracted to marry another woman the day before he was wed to Anne Hathaway. What a tantalizing opening for a historical novel! Shakespeare’s secret wife—another Anne—writes this book as a memoir, telling us about her love/hate relationship with the boy she practically grew up with. Will Shakespeare is most definitely brought down to our level, knocked off his pedestal and made very human, complete with charm, intelligence, and love, mixed in with foolhardy behavior and unexplained absences. Due to circumstances beyond her control, Anne is sidelined in the not-altogether-blameless Shakespeare’s life, though her influence on his work is profound. This scenario of a possible second wife goes a long way toward explaining the puzzling relationship between Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway. Although they had children and he bought a large and expensive house for his wife to live in, Shakespeare spent most of his productive years in London, far away from his family. I always wondered if this was a love match or a marriage of convenience? Did Shakespeare truly lead a double life? It’s interesting to speculate. And in this novel, we get an engaging exploration of such a scenario, thrown in with many historical events that blend well with what we know about the era. I found this book to be a page turner, though at times I got a little weary of Anne’s temper tantrums whenever things didn’t go her way. Though maybe that’s what frustrated love can do to a girl! She eventually came to terms with her role in Shakespeare's life, which I found a to be bit of a relief. I guess I was rooting for her all along.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Leya

    I loved the story! I'm amazed that I enjoyed it so much, who would have thought....Let me explain, I enjoy Shakespeare as much as the next person, but during a class I took at University I had to dwell into his history, which there's isn't much, his life and works don't mesh together and there's a lot of historians that believe that Shakespeare the author was a completely different person. And let me say I do not know enough to have an opinion. But that's the beauty of fiction, and this one real I loved the story! I'm amazed that I enjoyed it so much, who would have thought....Let me explain, I enjoy Shakespeare as much as the next person, but during a class I took at University I had to dwell into his history, which there's isn't much, his life and works don't mesh together and there's a lot of historians that believe that Shakespeare the author was a completely different person. And let me say I do not know enough to have an opinion. But that's the beauty of fiction, and this one really made me like the man, the actor, the poet, and the play write. Don't get me wrong I found him to be selfish, frustrating and often times an idiot, but he was human. He made mistakes and he tried to fix them. He was honorable in his own way. The true star of the book was Anne Whateley. She was a childhood friend, later his love and the one that he truly wanted to marry. She had no choice but to along with his marriage to the other Anne (Hathaway), I could understand her anger and sadness. She had to live with the decisions that were made for her and Will. She was a strong and independent woman in a time that you didn't see it often. She ran her father's business. And she was also a true admirer of Queen Elizabeth. But the one thing she wanted the most was to be recognized as the true Mistress Shakespeare. Not only were the characters wonderfully written but the setting of the late 1500's and early 1600's London felt real. I'm not an historical expert but I felt like I was truly experiencing London in that era. She gave me a glimpse on how people lived, concerns about family life, property and social standing, and along the way I also experienced the fear of the plague. 4.5/5

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alexandria

    I enjoyed this novel about a possilble other love of William Shakespeare. It was interesting to have theorized the way William Shakespeare's plays come about, with Anne Whateley being his muse, inspiration and means of his poems and plays getting to the public. I liked how the author wove in lines from the plays. The descriptions of the plague and daily life and the intrigues of Elizabeth's reign were eyeopening and quiet intersting. The desciption of Maud's death of the black death are heartren I enjoyed this novel about a possilble other love of William Shakespeare. It was interesting to have theorized the way William Shakespeare's plays come about, with Anne Whateley being his muse, inspiration and means of his poems and plays getting to the public. I liked how the author wove in lines from the plays. The descriptions of the plague and daily life and the intrigues of Elizabeth's reign were eyeopening and quiet intersting. The desciption of Maud's death of the black death are heartrenching. I had never thought of it with such graffic imagery. Anne was a very real character. She loved Will for all his faults, but wished to be rid of her love for him, and to be able to care for another, to get past the hurt he caused her, but loved him so much that time and again she forgave him. Quotes I like: "Time was more precious than gold; we snatched at its nuggets of minutes and moments." "a clever and tart tongue is tastier than a sweet one" "whether with me or afar, you are my muse. This play may not tell the world that, but I pray it tells you so." "the hightest compliment to me: when we were finished with our loving, Will was so sublimely moved that he forgot his new book...It was then I knew the power I had over not only the body of the man but his brain too." "it was the custom in days of yore to count how manyof the holly leaves were pointed - or male - and how many were rounded - the so-called female. Then whichever kind was in the majority supposedly decided whether the husband or wife ruled to rooste in the coming year." "It is often a burden to see our parents through adult eyes, but we must love them yet."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Just okay. I was really looking forward to this because like most, the whole back story of: "Was there really another Anne?" "Who was she?" "What happened to her?" was pretty fascinating. I knew going in that this was a novel, not non-fiction, but to me, this read more like a teen love story. Even the language in "Shakespeare In Love" was more complex than this. The character of William Shakespeare just seemed so ... simple-minded, which then had my mind wandering to the notion that if he was re Just okay. I was really looking forward to this because like most, the whole back story of: "Was there really another Anne?" "Who was she?" "What happened to her?" was pretty fascinating. I knew going in that this was a novel, not non-fiction, but to me, this read more like a teen love story. Even the language in "Shakespeare In Love" was more complex than this. The character of William Shakespeare just seemed so ... simple-minded, which then had my mind wandering to the notion that if he was really that dim-witted then how in heaven's name did he end up writing all of those fantastically intricate plays and poetry? Anne's character was better drawn and much more clever than Will (hmmmm...maybe she was really Shakespeare) but even she had so many "oh I hate him/oh I love him" moments that I started gritting my teeth, and it frankly, got a bit boring and that combined with Will's retarded jealousies got very wearing. What was a shame is that there were some great sections in this; the exit from the London plague for one, that were wonderful both for the narrative and the dialogue. As a whole though, I wasn't lovin' this.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    In the reviews here on Goodreads, it seems this book got mostly three stars. I'm giving it five stars because I really loved it. Yes, there were moments that I thought were somewhat annoying, but Karen Harper is a Shakespeare scholar and if this is indeed her theory of Shakespeare's Dark Lady, I think she really did an excellent job with this story. I loved all the references to Shakespeare's many plays, and there were so many quotes from his plays, poetry, and sonnets, which made the book all t In the reviews here on Goodreads, it seems this book got mostly three stars. I'm giving it five stars because I really loved it. Yes, there were moments that I thought were somewhat annoying, but Karen Harper is a Shakespeare scholar and if this is indeed her theory of Shakespeare's Dark Lady, I think she really did an excellent job with this story. I loved all the references to Shakespeare's many plays, and there were so many quotes from his plays, poetry, and sonnets, which made the book all the more enjoyable for me, and worthy of five stars. There is no question that Ms. Harper is an authority on the Elizabethan period, in addition to Shakespeare and his works, and all the interesting people who were in and out of Shakespeare's life -- Southampton, Essex, Henslowe, Marlowe, the Burbages, Queen Elizabeth, King James, etc. And his family background is extremely interesting, with his relations to the Ardens. The best part about this book for me, is that it inspired me to go back and reread some of the poems and sonnets.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Maree Waters

    Thank you to my beautiful daughter Autumn May for sending me this book. Firstly I have not studied nor read any of William Shakespeare's works, for this reason I probably would not have picked this book off the shelf myself. However Mistress Shakespeare did not disappoint, in fact it has piqued my interest! Mistress Shakespeare is a well researched novel based in the Tudor period. The story starts in 1601 with the prologue, then takes you back to 1564 telling the story of Anne Whateley's relation Thank you to my beautiful daughter Autumn May for sending me this book. Firstly I have not studied nor read any of William Shakespeare's works, for this reason I probably would not have picked this book off the shelf myself. However Mistress Shakespeare did not disappoint, in fact it has piqued my interest! Mistress Shakespeare is a well researched novel based in the Tudor period. The story starts in 1601 with the prologue, then takes you back to 1564 telling the story of Anne Whateley's relationship with William Shakespeare from when they were young until his death. The novel is written in Five Acts. The details in the book bring it to life and capture you from the very first page. I for one enjoyed the smattering of Tudor English written throughout the book. I would suggest to anyone even those that are not familiar to Shakespeare, that if you are looking for a beautifully researched and written novel about the Tudor Period, this one is perfect. Thank You Autumn.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Candace

    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. Harper takes a questionable, historical subject and leaves the reader with no self-doubts to his one true love. Enthusiasts of Shakespeare's plays and poems will enjoy the interweaving of his writings from start to finish. 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. Harper takes a questionable, historical subject and leaves the reader with no self-doubts to his one true love. Enthusiasts of Shakespeare's plays and poems will enjoy the interweaving of his writings from start to finish.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Bracewell

    I liked the concept of this book, although it was just a touch too romantic for me. It reminded me a little of the film "Shakespeare in Love", but it is more from the woman's point of view. Harper has done her homework regarding the history. I wish, though, that I could have gotten more emotionally involved in the book. Part of the problem is me. I've invented my own William Shakespeare -- we each do that, I think, drawing our own conclusions about this man from reading his plays. Harper's Shakes I liked the concept of this book, although it was just a touch too romantic for me. It reminded me a little of the film "Shakespeare in Love", but it is more from the woman's point of view. Harper has done her homework regarding the history. I wish, though, that I could have gotten more emotionally involved in the book. Part of the problem is me. I've invented my own William Shakespeare -- we each do that, I think, drawing our own conclusions about this man from reading his plays. Harper's Shakespeare didn't quite meet the dimensions that I'd drawn up in my own mind for the man.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nae

    It never ceases to amaze me how timely the words of Shakespeare are even in today's world :) This was a swirling, mesmerizing tale of the "perhaps that might have happened" behind the words, sensuous and flowing, that Shakespeare wrote and I have to admit I enjoyed pretty much every word in this book of a possible mistress and how that may have impacted the plays and sonnets he wrote. This book came to me through the Goodreads giveaways and I am oh so glad that it did.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Miriam

    I could not put this wonderful romance, historical fiction piece down. I learned lots about Shakespeare, life in the late 1590s, and about his two loves. Best of all, it's the perfect read to prepare for this year of Shakespeare and the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death. Of course, it's fiction, but Karen Harper does such a great job at historical fiction, you'll find it's as close to the truth as she can discover. Read and enjoy!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Ohsewcrafty

    Enjoyable romp through Shakespearean England. I loved the political and religious intrigue, and the view of the theatre industry. The love and friendship between Will and Anne was interesting and touching, as it changed and matured through their lives. A sweet love story, in the end.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    I almost quit reading this book several times, but every now & then an event would occur to move along the stultifying plot and I would give it another chance. It was like that all the way through. When the author (whom I am sure I would like very much in person) let go of all the twee, self-conscious, Shakespearian references, and just wrote the story, it was interesting and worthwhile. Unfortunately, she seemed bound and determined to tie everything to a famous Shakespeare quote or scene, unti I almost quit reading this book several times, but every now & then an event would occur to move along the stultifying plot and I would give it another chance. It was like that all the way through. When the author (whom I am sure I would like very much in person) let go of all the twee, self-conscious, Shakespearian references, and just wrote the story, it was interesting and worthwhile. Unfortunately, she seemed bound and determined to tie everything to a famous Shakespeare quote or scene, until it resembled the modern counterpart of speaking only in movie quotes! I must say that I support her absolute acceptance of William Shakespeare of Stratford as being the "real" Shakespeare. As I have stated elsewhere, his knowledge and use of glover's terms as well as of the names of Warwickshire wildflowers, gives all the proof necessary that he was born and raised in Stratford, the son of a glove-maker. The premise of this novel is an intriguing one, that Shakespeare registered to marry another Anne the day before his marriage to Anne Hathaway. The original document still exists. Also, widely scattered through-out the book are some excellent scenes which take us to the English country-side or the London of the late 16th, early 17th centuries. A few of the highlights are: Queen Elizabeth's visit to Kenilworth Castle, the birth of the Devenant's baby and the final courtroom drama. In fact, the book would have been improved if that had been the conclusion. The actual ending was anti-climactic. Things I could have done without: 1) Will's continual jealousy. It was unbelievable, unnecessary and uninteresting. 2) Will's antipathy to Queen Elizabeth. This attitude was not credible, because, however he felt personally (and no one really knows,) he was a businessman who believed in making his supporters and patrons happy. 3) As mentioned before, the overreaching connections of all things Shakespeare. In many places it was more a string of the known facts rather than a progressive story. While I think this book might have earned a 2.5 rating; I found it more irritating than likable, and so, I did not round-up.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brennyn Small

    The worst part of this book was the part involving Shakespeare. The main character is supposed to be a woman who speaks her mind and is strong willed. But on the flip side she is constantly being belittled, talked down to, and overpowered by Will. The entire book I was waiting for her to finally say she had had enough and get herself a man who respects and loves her beyond just having sex with her. She lives her entire life for him and is always at his beck and call while he accuses her of cheat The worst part of this book was the part involving Shakespeare. The main character is supposed to be a woman who speaks her mind and is strong willed. But on the flip side she is constantly being belittled, talked down to, and overpowered by Will. The entire book I was waiting for her to finally say she had had enough and get herself a man who respects and loves her beyond just having sex with her. She lives her entire life for him and is always at his beck and call while he accuses her of cheating, lying, being ugly and all the rest. When they are having an argument and she tries to walk away he grabs her arms and throws her against the wall until she gives in and they have sex. It's pretty gross.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elle Arnot

    Well constructed mature historical "memoir", considering it is based on speculation. The detailed context of Shakespeare's time is well supported and Harper conveys the essence of love' s complexity in a way that makes the relationship between The Bard and his wife/ mistress plausible. Possible answers to mysteries about The sonnets and plays pop up as fun Shakespeare trivia . The audiobook narration is smooth and restrained. A great non-Shakespeare line, in the book defines memoir as a"probing Well constructed mature historical "memoir", considering it is based on speculation. The detailed context of Shakespeare's time is well supported and Harper conveys the essence of love' s complexity in a way that makes the relationship between The Bard and his wife/ mistress plausible. Possible answers to mysteries about The sonnets and plays pop up as fun Shakespeare trivia . The audiobook narration is smooth and restrained. A great non-Shakespeare line, in the book defines memoir as a"probing of personal memories . The book probes and engages

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laura C.

    More interesting than engaging, I never got a glimmer of why Anne (If she did exist) would give up her whole life to be with William Shakespeare. He's kind of a boring jerk. "Like a monstrous demon, ravenous for human lives, the Black Death came to devour us." "So you and I are much alike in our admiration-- and love-- for those we have chosen to care for." "All these years I'd been an only child, but which was worse-- to be alone or to have so many to lose?" "Everything changes and yet nothing doe More interesting than engaging, I never got a glimmer of why Anne (If she did exist) would give up her whole life to be with William Shakespeare. He's kind of a boring jerk. "Like a monstrous demon, ravenous for human lives, the Black Death came to devour us." "So you and I are much alike in our admiration-- and love-- for those we have chosen to care for." "All these years I'd been an only child, but which was worse-- to be alone or to have so many to lose?" "Everything changes and yet nothing does. All is true."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Daisy Jenel

    An enjoyable tale of life in Elizabethan and Jacobean England, seen through the eyes of Shakespeare's mistress - I marked it down to four stars rather than five due to a few Americanisms which grated, but apart from that it was an enjoyable romp through Shakespeare's life, bringing in his life as an actor/playwright in London and referencing his contemporaries. Recommended to anyone who enjoys/is studying Shakespeare.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lisa James

    A well done historical fiction novel told by the historically mythical 2nd wife of Shakespeare, Anne Whately. She recounts her life with Will, during some of England's most troubled times. The fascinating thing here is how factually this was researched, as the people referenced were real, & even though the story is fictitious, there's enough truth behind the imagination to make it completely believable. I loved it! A well done historical fiction novel told by the historically mythical 2nd wife of Shakespeare, Anne Whately. She recounts her life with Will, during some of England's most troubled times. The fascinating thing here is how factually this was researched, as the people referenced were real, & even though the story is fictitious, there's enough truth behind the imagination to make it completely believable. I loved it!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ellie Manning

    An exciting fictional novel based on the figure of Anne Whateley: the woman William Shakespeare may have intended to marry before Anne Hathaway. Presented as Shakespeare's infamous "dark lady", Anne tells her own story of heroism, romance, secrecy, hardship, and life in Elizabethan England during the days of William Shakespeare.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rya

    This book will not be disappearing from my favourites list for a long time!! I loved it! Hated having to put it down for days at a time as university coursework took over but always excited to be able to pick it back up again and read a few more chapters. It’s just an exquisite book! A must read

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