Book Review: Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper

In Mistress Shakespeare, Elizabethan beauty Anne Whateley reveals intimate details of her dangerous, daring life and her great love, William Shakespeare. As historical records show, Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton is betrothed to Will just days before he is forced to wed the pregnant Anne Hathaway of Shottery. The clandestine Whateley/Shakespeare match is a meeting of hearts and heads that no one, not even Queen Elizabeth or her spymasters can destroy. From rural Stratford-upon-Avon to teeming London, the passionate pair struggles to stay solvent and remain safe from Elizabeth I’s campaign to hunt down secret Catholics, of whom Shakespeare is rumored to be a part. Often at odds, always in love, the couple sells Will’s first plays and, as he climbs to theatrical power in Elizabeth’s England, they fend off fierce competition from rival London dramatists, ones as treacherous as they are talented. Persecution and plague, insurrection and inferno, friends and foes, even executions of those they hold dear, bring Anne’s heartrending story to life. 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.(

Whether or not there was another Anne in Shakespeare’s life has been something that has been hotly debated. Some say there was a clerical error and she never existed others have found some fairly supporting evidence that she did exist at the very least. The book starts off a little bit slow for me but it does pick up once Anne goes to London. The story is not a typical oh they meet oh they fall in love story and I love it for that. The two love each other deeply and passionately but they also fight, and at times seem to “hate” each other. A very real life kind of story.

There is danger around every corner and that also seems to effect their love story. The time of Elizabeth Tudor’s reign was not one of total peace by any means especially if you did not agree with everything the Queen does and say’s. Overall this was a great book with good writing and complex characters. If you like Shakespeare and the Tudor era your going to like this book.

My Gemstone Rating:


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