Author: Jennifer Lee Carrell
Paperback: 416 pages
Published date: 2007
FTC: won in a contest from Reading Group Choices
A few years ago I won a cool bundle of books from Reading Group Choices - a very very cool site for book lovers. Back in 2009 I read this book and thought it was a fun Shakespearean mystery but never reviewed it for some reason. While watching the preview for the movie Anonymous, a movie centered around one of the theories of who wrote the famous plays, I was reminded of this book. So I thought I'd re-read it and finally get a review written.
Present day: Kate Stanley is a highly educated Shakespearean scholar and was offered the dream job of directing a production of Hamlet at the Globe in London. During rehearsal, her old mentor Rosalind Howard gives her a box and a mysterious message. The next day Rosalind is dead and someone has tried to burn the Globe to the ground.
Following Rosalind's message to keep the gift safe and "follow where it leads", Kate sets of in an adventure around the world, following cryptic messages, uncovering hidden truths about Shakespeare and his plays, while leaving a trail of dead bodies in her wake.
If you are interested in Shakespeare or find the whole conspiracy theories surrounding Shakespeare's plays, then you'd probably enjoy this well-written romp.
I'll be honest that when I first read this book a few years ago, I didn't know as much about all the different theories surrounding Shakespeare. I knew there were probably some missing plays, there were some debate if all the plays were written by Shakespeare, and that not much was known about him - even what he really looked like.
So instead of a traditional review, I'll post some links and photos of interesting things I learned.
First Folio: the collection of Shakespeare's works compiled AFTER his death. If you find one of these you will be very rich...there were originally about 750 and now only 228. So you could theoretically be very very lucky.
Cardenio - a possible lost play, possibly by Shakespeare and probably based on Don Quixote. Which reminds me I should read Don Quixote at some point.
Shakespeare's portrait - what did he really look like?
Shakespeare's children - there are no direct descendants, the last living died in 1670.
His creepy tombstone with a curse!
The Shakespeare statue at Wilton House (go here for a picture)
Frances Carr - won't tell you much more but here's her portrait:
Delia Bacon - smart lady who thought Sir Frances Bacon could be part of a Shakespearean collaboration. Here's Sir Frances Bacon:
|Sir Frances Bacon|
Did you know Bacon developed a cipher? Very interesting.
Edward de Vere - 17th Earl of Oxford -- if you haven't checked out this guy's wiki page, he was such an interesting character.. I could see why some might think he could have been Shakespeare:
|Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford|
Simon Forman - what a weird interesting historical character.
Folger Shakespeare Library - beware of spending too much time at their gift shop site
And someday I WILL make it to Utah's Shakespeare Festival. Why go to London when I can visit the Globe in the state next door?
Also, check out Jennifer Lee Carrell's website for some more fun Shakespearean links.
So the book was a good little mystery romp but what I really enjoyed was finding out all the interesting tidbits. What do you think -- did Shakespeare write his plays or could it have been someone else?
Different cover art:
I believe this is the UK version: