Monday, October 18, 2010

Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard

The title: Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard
The author: Richard B. Wright
Publication: Phyllis Bruce Books, 2010
Got it from: The library

I found this book interesting because I'm not usually a big fan of the Tudor era - too many beheadings for my liking. But I read this because I knew I was going to meet the author through my job and I wanted to prepare myself. I actually ended up being pleasantly surprised. The story was far more gentle and far less gritty than I was bracing myself for.

This tale is really about two women. The first is Aerlene, an old woman living around the time of the Restoration, who is telling her life story and how she is secretly Shakespeare's daughter. The second woman is Aerlene's mother Elizabeth and through Aerlene we hear how Elizabeth met and had an affair with Shakespeare as a young woman in London. Reading this book, I almost felt that I was dealing with characters who possessed Victorian sensibilities - I had to keep reminding myself that everything was taking place in the 17th century, not the 19th. It certainly provided a more refreshing and realistic portrayal of humanity than the oversexed and overbloody depictions of the era in current media (think the Tudors TV show). It is also far superior to the movie Shakespeare in Love, which of course the storyline is similar to. I can't help disliking Shakespeare in Love more and more with each passing year for the whole "sexy Shakespeare" trend it started. Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard is a nice anecdote for those weary of the blood-and-sex Tudors and looking for more complex and well-rounded Elizabethan characters.

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