I saw this book at Barnes and Noble’s, then put it on my library list (because I am cheap, and support my local libraries!) and have kind of been “saving” it when I was in the mood for something good to read. It was! It was everything I wanted.
From Publishers Weekly
On November 27, 1582, the Worcester archives show a grant for a marriage license for one Anne Whateley and her groom, Wm Shaxpere. Yet several days later, William Shakespeare married a pregnant Anne Hathaway. Harper’s slack latest takes this mystery as its subject, imagining Anne Whateley as Shakespeare’s only true love. Friends from childhood driven apart by their families’ antipathy, Will and Anne rediscover each other as they come of age, and the young lovers plan to wed in spite of their families’ disapproval. When Will is forced into marriage with Anne Hathaway, Anne Whateley flees to London and throws herself into her family’s business, but the two reunite when Will arrives in London, and Anne becomes his tireless promoter. The novel’s chief pleasures derive from the easy intersection of Shakespeare’s work, the history of Elizabethan England and the life that the author imagines Shakespeare might have had. …
Of course I loved this! It has everything I am into. Alternative retellings, a female perspective on history, an account of the Plague, and “answers” to some of the Shakespearean mysteries, like why he left his wife his “second-best bed” in the famous will. I also loved the while history was white-washed a bit, the disgustingness and smells of a big city like London were described frequently. Beautifully written and indulged the romantic, goofy Shakespeare loving side of me.