Shakespeare’s Will

Written by Meredith Whitford
Review by Viviane Crystal

“For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,/That then I scorn to change my state with kings.” These words might apply to different phases of “Will Shakspere’s” life in 16th-century England; but in Meredith Whitford’s depiction, they are the words of a repentant husband come home to his one true love.

Will, a penniless glover’s son initially, seeks a connection to Anne Hathaway because she is the only one infatuated by his poems and person. When Will fortuitously receives an apprenticeship in London, with the financial backing of his father, he knows not that Anne is pregnant. So follows a pattern of Will traveling back and forth to London, while Anne stays home struggling to feed and care for a daughter and then twins.

As Will’s skills are honed with time and acknowledged, he struggles with his passions. For in this author’s hands, the great playwright strays with both sexes and only long afterward is racked by guilt. Indeed it is suggested that such wanton excess and lustful pleasures actually fuel his writings. A relationship with Will’s first patron, Harry Wriothesley, the earl of Southampton, is artfully portrayed with passionate abandon, one that will consume Will until he is devastated by an unexpected betrayal. Intertwined with this enticing tale are snippets of lines from Will’s plays, sonnets, and poems. The reader will also be intrigued by the spies rampant from Queen Elizabeth of England and Kings James of Scotland’s courts, never knowing what could change the world of politics and play writing at a moment’s notice.

Shakespeare’s Will is an intelligent, literate, fascinating foray into the world so many attempt to imagine regarding the life, love, and creativity of this oh-so-famous playwright, “Will Shakspere.” This is a must-read, terrific novel!