The Sonnets

Written by Warwick Collins

In 1592, young playwright William Shakespeare was forced on hiatus out of London due to threats of the plague. Returning to the patronage of the wild miscreant Earl of Southampton, William began a new form of writing in earnest: the sonnets. Initially written to honor his patron and their deep friendship, the sonnets grew ambivalent and covert to protect both writer and patron as the Southhamptons were Catholic, a political danger during the reign of Elizabeth I. But when Shakespeare was allowed usage of the research library of Southampton’s tutor, Master Florio, an abrupt change in the sonnets grew apparent as his heart was captured by Florio’s wife, Lucia. Adding to the intrigue, she was already the mistress of Southampton himself, which led to many a tricky line in the sonnets to follow.

This novel of Shakespeare and sonnets builds an imaginative history while giving the reader a feast of over thirty of Shakespeare’s sonnets blended into the author’s vivid storyline, adding to the speculations of who or what prompted Shakespeare’s shorter outpouring of literary expression. Recommended.