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Mistress Shakespeare


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About the Author

Karen Harper was a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author whose novels, both historical and contemporary, have been published worldwide.


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 2008 Reed Business Information.

Verdict: Harper's portrait of William Shakespeare's rumored second wife joins a subgenre of historical novels speculating on the Bard's life and work. The author's combination of historical detail with the story of thwarted lovers extends the novel's appeal to more than just Shakespeare fans. Recommended for public libraries with historical fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/08.] Background: Elizabethan England is a familiar setting to Harper; her popular mystery series featuring the queen herself (Poyson Garden) spans the reign with nine volumes. This new novel focuses on the marriage bond issued to Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton one day before the wedding of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway. Harper proves her mastery of writing romance as well as historical fiction. For another view of the two Annes, see Laurie Lawlore's YA novel, The Two Loves of Will Shakespeare.-Mary K. Bird-Guilliams, Wichita P.L., KS Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Praise for the Historical Novels of Karen Harper

"As good as the best of Philippa Gregory."-Library Journal

"An excellent read...will, without a doubt, become a classic of Tudor-era historical fiction."-Writing the Renaissance

"Intoxicating...a romantic roller coaster rich with vivid details."-Women's Day

"The book is vivid, believable and the characters are so alive...You'll read it cover to cover in a weekend and then order more Karen Harper books!"-theanneboleynfiles.com

"A page-turner, a fascinating summation of the intriguing life and times of Elizabeth I, from Henry VIII's pursuit of Anne Boleyn and his divorce of Catherine of Aragon, through the death of Edward VI and Elizabeth's coronation."-Read All Day

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