Violetta and Feste are in London, the year is 1601 and William Shakespeare is enjoying success at the Globe Theatre. But Violetta is not there to admire his plays; she is in England to retrieve her country's greatest treasure, stolen by the evil Malvolio, and she needs help.
In an adventure that stretches from the shores of Illyria to the Forest of Arden, romance and danger go hand in hand. In a quest that could mean life or death, can Violetta manage to recover the precious relic and save her country and herself?
My review and thoughts
Despite Celia Rees being one of the few YA historical authors, I had not read any of her novels until this one even though I have 2 of them waiting to be read on my shelf so I was really looking forward to finding out what her writing was like.
I studied Twelfth Night last year at school and loved it, I've also been to see an open air staging of it so the premise of the book was very intriguing.
As the novel progressed into the world of Elizabethan London I soon realised Rees' unmistakable talent or transporting you to the past by building up your sense of being there with intricate details appealing to all your senses. The real test with historical description is how authentic it is and Rees definitely passes the test there as along with the descriptions of the bustling London streets and Shakespeares' playhouse, we are told about the gruesome lack of hygiene and the fate for the not so lucky.
Shakespeare was put across differently to in the novels that I have read where he was portrayed as being on the bawdy or gallant side as he seemed to be a fairly quiet, kind and sensible man who did care for and love his family here. This is possibly quite a realistic impression of him and I also liked the way that I could see ideas for Twelfth Night forming in his mind in the narrative.
It does not matter whether you have read or are familiar with Twelfth Night before, Rees explains everything you need to know and I think that some readers will be encouraged to read the original play that inspired the book. For those who are studying Twelfth Night, The Fool's Girl would make an excellent and useful addition to curriculum work or research.
Verdict: Mixing together Shakespeare, Illyria, characters from Twelfth Night, mystery, myths and legends and Elizabethan London pulled off fantastically overall with Rees' exquisite writing. I would recommend it to anyone age 13+ but with the advice that it is a good idea to keep on reading is they are a bit confused at the start.
Thank you very much to Bloomsbury for sending me The Fool's Girl