Anne Hathaway is simply a “yeoman’s daughter,” and Will Shakespeare is a boy who will someday grow up to write plays for the court of the queen of England–and leave his loving wife behind for the excitement of London. Anne is seven years older than Will. They are very different, but, despite their many differences, they become friends, and eventually lovers. Everyone has heard the tale of William Shakespeare’s will, and how he gives to Anne only is “Second best bed.” There have been many interpretations of that–is it some inside joke, or is did he simply feel his wife was second best? No one will ever know, but that doesn’t make this story any less interesting
I suppose that most of my issues with this story lie with the story itself, or, rather, the ending of it, but that is history, and thus unchangeable. The idea of LOVING WILL SHAKESPEARE is a brilliant one (despite the fact that history cannot be changed), but the story itself fell rather short of my high expectations for it. Anne was a wonderful character, but she was the only one who felt consistently real. The minor characters, even Will, sometimes seemed as believable as Anne, but much of the time they were flat and two-dimensional. Carolyn Meyer’s writing, however, was quite good. Despite its shortcomings, this is a story worth reading, and I’ll probably read more by Carolyn Meyer.