Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Book Review: Shakespeare's Apprentice by Veronica Bennett

'My love can never marry a player," said Sam. "But she loves me because I am a player.'

Sam Guilborne, a farmer's son is an apprentice actor in Shakespeare's theatre company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, in London Lucie Cheetham is the niece of Lord Essex, a favourite courtier of Queen Elizabeth. Like Romeo and Juliet, Sam and Lucie should not have met, never mind fallen in love. Can their story have a happy ending?

My  review and thoughts


As the title of the book suggests, this book is primarily about a boy called Sam on his journey to becoming a young man whilst he is Shakespeare's Apprentice in the theatre company of The Lord Chamberlain's Men. When we first meet Sam a few years into his apprenticeship, although he loves the world of acting he is fed up and frustrated of playing only small parts in plays whilst his strikingly handsome friend William gets the spotlight. Meanwhile it is a tumultuous period for The Lord Chamberlain's Men with its biggest and most influential patron, Lord Essex causing trouble and losing the favour of the Queen, not to mention the fact that they are about to lose the theatre they perform in. Then, in spite of social divide, steadfast Sam wins the affections of the beautiful Lady Lucie Cheetham and they find in their secret affection for each other something that is lacking from the remarkably different lives that they lead, Lucie, the nice of Lord Essex and Sam a humble player.
Their love is impossible, their social divide is too great but they are determined to find a way to be together, even when Lucie and her family are at risk of calamity from the dangerous and reckless behaviour of Lord Essex who is displeasing the Queen. A Lady would never be able to marry a player, but can their love overcome any obstacle?


This book sounded interesting because I wanted to find out what life might have been like for an apprentice in Shakespeare's theatre company and this book definitely gives you an insight into this and there were many things that were new and I had not heard of in other Shakespeare based books such as the dismantling of the Theatre they performed in and its move to Southwark, which kept the book fresh.
I also liked the sideline story of the Lord Essex and the Queen's displeasure with him, which was fascinating and the way that the love story between Sam and Lucie was wound around it was very clever.

Although the plot was a good idea, I felt that the middle of the book dragged on for a bit, with a three year time span where not much happened and although this gave time for the relationship between Sam and Lucie to grow and seem more realistic they weren't able to see or correspond with each other much.
Also, some of the characters seemed a little bit one dimensional, especially Lucie as I would have liked to know more about her character's life and for her to have more of a definite personality.

My verdict: Shakespeare's Apprentice gave an interesting insight into the life of an apprentice in Shakespeare's theatre company and was a very sweet and lighthearted romance that could have done with a bit more depth.


  1. Would you categorize this book under fiction or historical fiction?



  2. Oh I like the sound of this one. I will have to add it to the wishlist :)

  3. Man of LA Books- this book is set in Elizabethan times and there are lots of period details, espcially about the theatre and there are real people and events that happen but most of the story is fictional. I hope that helps :)

    Agirlreads- Glad that my review helped you to find another book to add to your wishlist, that always makes me smile! Thanks for letting me know :)


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