Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare-Arliss Ryan

The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare
Arliss Ryan
NAL, Jun 1 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451229953

In the year of our Lord 1623, the sexagenarian is dying. Her caring teenage granddaughter LizBeth is excited over the package that arrives for her beloved Gran. Inside is the published works of her husband who Ben Jonson insisted will be remembered forever. However, Gran remembers her bald headed Will a bit differently than his adoring fans.

When she was twenty-six years old, Anne Hathaway of Shottery met eighteen years old William Shakespeare. She fell in love with the younger man and helped him with his writings. Though most assume he had to marry her, she tells LizBeth he needed her. She further claims to have written some of the plays, but women cannot get credit and besides Will is selfish as most men of this age are even if the works are ageless. In fact when the son of a craftsman runs off with a troupe for London, she follows leaving their children with her parents. At his side, Anne helps Will write.

With a nod to Shakespeare in Love, this is a terrific biographical fiction with the twist of using expected Elizabethan Era gender roles (ironically with who rules) and the belief by some that the Bard did not write all of his backlist to provide a deep spin to the legend of Shakespeare. The story line transports readers back in time, but the fun in this wonderful historical is the lamination on some of the plays like Hamlet. Reader will enjoy The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare as a different spin to the legend is wonderfully developed.

Harriet Klausner

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