On the Same Page: Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper

A couple of years ago, April of 2013, I came up with the idea of “On the Same Page” during a discussion with friends. I conceived of it as a way to make book discussions happen, by announcing what I would be reading ahead of time and inviting others who were interested to read the same book in the same time frame, so we could talk about it. Not quite a read-along, just a sort of “heads up” for people whose TBR looks a lot like mine.

I did four On the Same Page posts in the fall of 2013; there were some good short conversations, and I liked the results. Easier to follow than Twitter conversations, without the pressure of a review deadline. At least one other blogger tried the same thing for a little while. But then stuff happened, my blogging mojo waned, the usual. Now I’m resurrecting the idea.

Book Cover is J. W. Waterhouse, The Soul of the RoseWhen I did my little Twitter poll to choose a book for this month’s TBR Challenge “impulse book” read, a couple of people commented that they had, or were interested in, Mistress Shakespeare, by Karen Harper. Harper is a best-selling author, primarily of mystery/suspense novels. When this book was published in 2009, she was best known for her Queen Elizabeth I mystery series. I have never read a book of hers, and I know that the only reason I own this book is that it was on sale and that it has one of my favorite Waterhouse paintings, “The Soul of the Rose,” on the cover.

I’m probably going to read this book in September. From September 10th to the 20th I am doing a lot of traveling, so any reading will be Kindle and blog posting will be even less likely than usual. There’s a TBR challenge review during that time, with the “historical” theme, but I have something else planned for that slot. So my thoughts on Mistress Shakespeare will probably be posted sometime towards the end of the month. Plenty of time to jump on board, if you have this book or think it looks interesting. (It’s a little pricey in e-book, but used print copies are cheap.)

Summary (from Amazon.com):

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.


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