Writing her memoirs seven years after her husband's death, Anne Hathaway reminisces about her now-famous husband, recalling in particular that week in April, 1594, when the still-struggling poet and playwright invited her to London to celebrate his thirtieth birthday, and what happened to her in a certain strange bed in his lodgings above a fishmonger's shop. In telling that story, and any others, she casts a brilliant new light on Shakespeare-a very close look at the master by one who shared his bed but never bothered to read him. This is a riot of scholarship and bawdy writing.
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Poet and novelist Robert Nye's novels have won both the Hawthorndon Prize and the Guardian Fiction Prize. Born in London, he now makes his home in County Cork, Ireland.From Publishers Weekly:
English poet and novelist Nye's slim fiction is so charmingly written, one hardly minds that in the end the plot boils down to a literary dirty joke. Seven years after William Shakespeare's death, in an anachronistically feminist move for 1622, Susanna Shakespeare gives her widowed mother a vellum blank book, and in it Anne decides to write "My story. His story. Our story. The story of the poet, the wife, the best bed, and the bed called second-best." In doing so she solves several literary mysteries: what was the second-best bed, mentioned in Shakespeare's will? and who was the Dark Lady of the Sonnets? The first half of the book seems much ado about nothing as Anne rambles on about the difficulties of being married to a poet. As she writes, she sets the scene for her dramatic trip to visit William on his 30th birthday in London, where he has been living while she struggles to raise their children in Stratford. Anne loves her misguided romantic of a husband, although she can't understand what motivates him, commenting, "I have not read his works. I read my Bible." When Nye, author of the Hawthorndon Prize- and the Guardian Fiction Prize-winning Falstaff, finally reveals the dramatic secret of the bedDnamely who gave it to William, why and what actions have taken place in itDthe marital romp that ensues illustrates Nye's amusing theory that Shakespeare tested the plots of his plays in flagrante delicto. Nye's light tone and whimsical touches (Anne shares a couple of truly disgusting-sounding 16th-century recipes) buoy up this tartly ribald romantic comedy, a graceful literary fantasia. (Oct.)
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