Constrained by the historical record, Ms. Meyer could only make this book as “happy ending” comedic as the actual few facts that are known about Anne Hathaway Shakespeare warrant. We know that she was seven or eight years older than her husband, William, that the two of them spent much of their marriage apart with Will in London and Anne in Stratford, and that their only son Hamnet died young. We also know that William Shakespeare left his wife, Anne, the “second best bed” in his will; we don’t know why.
Then there are all the guesses. Shakespeare’s sonnets seem to indicate that he had a mistress or that he pretended to do so. He certainly spent a lot of his time in London. Did he do so in order to support his beloved wife and children or because he wanted to get away from them? Or both? Was the wedding of Anne Hathaway and William Shakespeare a shotgun wedding? There is strong evidence that Anne was already pregnant when the two were married.
Author Carolyn Meyer takes all the facts and all the speculation and creates an engaging tale about the courtship and marriage of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway. It’s a young adult story, not for shildren, since it assumes and and tells the story of the premarital relations between William and Anne. It’s a sort of sad little tale; Anne has great hopes of romance and love, living with such a poet as Mr. Shakespeare, but her hopes are not to be realized. The story is told from Anne’s point of view; Shakespeare’s thoughts and feelings and motivations remain somewhat mirky and unclear.
I liked some of Meyer’s other books better (Where the Broken Heart Still Beats: The Story of Cynthia Ann Parker, Mary, Bloody Mary), but this one was O.K. Note the headless couple picture on the cover of the book. Others have had similar complaints (can’t remember which blogger mentioned it first), but I must chime in and say that I’m tired of seeing pictures of headless or nearly headless people on book covers.