This imagined autobiography of the life of the eminent bard starts as William Shakespeare, on his death bed, attempts to exit this mortal coil by recounting his life story to his lawyer Francis Collins. Making sense of this enigmatic playwright’s life and times is no easy feat and the author has done a commendable job in fleshing out the details of Shakespeare’s life from his early childhood in Stratford, through to adulthood amongst the glittering court world of Elizabethan politics and Jacobean skulduggery.
There is no doubt that the author has done his research extremely well and has unearthed snippets of Shakespeare’s life which shows that the bard lived a colourful and extremely lively existence. There are some lovely descriptive accounts of both Elizabethan and Jacobean England when the glittering prose really does leap off the page and by leaving nothing to the imagination the sights, sounds and smells of the era really do come gloriously alive.
There is a compelling lyricism to the narrative which is rather poetic and it certainly has more than enough historical content, in fact, there were times when I forgot that the book was a novel as it is presented more like a non-fiction account and some of the lovely literary prose is achingly reminiscent of some of Shakespeare’s own writings.
I’m not sure that this book will appeal to reading groups per se unless they have a real interest in complex historical content. My view is that this book stands rather as a multifaceted personal read and more as one to be savoured slowly rather than read at full speed.
My thanks to newbooks for my review copy of this book
17- 23 March 2014