Then, suddenly, Will is back. No longer a cute boy who entertains Anne with silly pranks, he is tall and handsome, and his innocent flirtations are taking a serious turn. Although he is much younger than she is Anne can’t get him out of her mind. Could Will be the man for her?'
On the very first page, there is a letter from Will to his wife Anne in 1611, which serves as a springboard and introduction for the story.
Writing, Characters and Flaws
I thought that Caroleyn Meyer’s descriptive writing painted a clear picture of what life was like for a young women in a Tudor village who wants to escape the social restraints of her time to live her own way and escape from her miserable home.
I could relate to Anne, who was a feisty young girl woman throughout the book and I admire her for what she endured with courage.
Meanwhile, Will was the type of young man that many young girls could fall in love with, kind, humorous, a master poet and love letter writer, gallant and (according to Anne’s descriptions), handsome. However, as the story was told in the first person by Anne, Shakespeare's thoughts, feelings were very hazy and unclear.
However, I felt that at some points in the book even the main characters were a bit flat and lifeless (apart from Anne, who was consistently real) and some of the minor characters were not described enough to imagine what they looked like..
I enjoyed the bittersweet romance between Will and Anne that grew from childhood friendship but felt that although the book was based on a good idea, as it spanned over nearly all of Anne’s life it turned into a bit of an account of everything that happened in her life with one short chapter covering a month to a couple of years. Once the romance between Will and her started to blossom, the pace picked up a bit and it became more interesting but I felt that the end of the book, which the whole book had been building up to in anticipation of a happy ending was slightly rushed.
Meyer’s vivid writing kept the story alive and interesting with imaginative events happening in Anne’s life even though she did not have much historical information about her character. She managed to create an engaging 'he loves me, he loves me not' tale with Elizabethan themes flowing through.
If you are looking for lots of detail about young Will Shakespeare, then you will be disappointed by this book but if reading about the struggles and thoughts of a rebellious yet kind-hearted young ‘yeomans daughter’ living in rural Elizabethan England appeals to you, then you will enjoy this book despite some of its flaws.
Here is a link to an interesting blog post on Becky's Book Reviews comparing this and another book with a completely different take on the characters and events that was published around the same time.