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Mistress Shakespeare

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3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  1,716 Ratings  ·  237 Reviews
A delicious and intriguing historical novel about the woman who was William Shakespeare’s secret wife— by New York Times–bestselling author, Karen Harper.

In Mistress Shakespeare, Elizabethan beauty Anne Whateley reveals intimate details of her dangerous, daring life and her great love, William Shakespeare. As historical records show, Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton is bet
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Hardcover, 366 pages
Published February 5th 2009 by Putnam Adult
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Annie
Mar 06, 2009 Annie rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
I have to admire the courage it took for Karen Harper to take something as small as a discrepancy on William Shakespeare's marriage certificate and create an entire novel from it. Although the idea that Shakespeare had a mistress is not a new one, it is a fantastic literary premise sure to draw attention and potentially, criticism.

There are plenty of areas in which this novel does deliver and can be commended. First of all would be the clever way Harper weaves lines of Shakespeare's sonnets and
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LeAnn
Nov 26, 2010 LeAnn rated it liked it
I enjoyed this "what-if" drawn from a single line in a legal register from 1582 that had Shakespeare applying for a marriage bond to a woman named Anne Whately the day before he applied for one for Anne Hathaway, who was pregnant. Harper, assuming that the first Anne was no mistake and was a love match, imagines what might have happened if Shakespeare had two wives.

Having recently read Peter Ackroyd's biography of Shakespeare, I recognized many of the details known about his life and milieu as
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Laura
Feb 04, 2012 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is quite possibly one of the worst books I have ever started to read. The author clearly thinks that her audience has no grasp of the period key people or events of the reign of Elizabeth I.

Here's the thing if you choose to read Historical Fiction for a certain period there is an extremely high chance that the reader will have an interest in there period. In my case an undergrad thesis. I found the tone patronizing. Key figures over explained and if you need to explain what a summer progre
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Kim
Feb 08, 2012 Kim rated it it was ok
Shelves: tudor-fiction
As always, Karen Harper takes on a subject that while seeming small or inconsequential, has the potential to be larger than life. Sometimes, she nails her subject, as she did in her novel The Last Boleyn, but in the case of Mistress Shakespeare, I did not quite catch the same spark, the same magic that I did in her other novel.

(view spoiler)
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Ape
Lordy, so many feelings in this book. So much emotion! So much like a stuck record. But I felt that I had to get to the end of the damn thing for some reason so I struggled through. I guess this is a kind of fan fiction, as the writer is obviously obsessed with Shakespeare and "name-drops" play titles and quotes all the way through the book. Maybe if you're equally as obsessed, you'll enjoy this what-if-there-was-another-wife- fictional version of history... it's fluffy, sometimes I don't mind a ...more
Beverly
Aug 06, 2016 Beverly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, 2016, england
I received this book as a First Reads giveaway.

First things first...the cover is beautiful!

Karen Harper is an excellent storyteller. She gave a unique and credible voice to Anne Whately, the first wife of William Shakespeare. It spans almost 50 years, from the time Anne and Will met as children up until middle age, when he had reached the height of him his fame. The descriptions of London, Temple Grafton, and Warwickshire were incredible. The relationship dynamics between Anne and Will were so
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Shala Howell
Jun 08, 2009 Shala Howell rated it it was ok
I ended up enjoying this book, but only gave it two stars because:
1) I put it down somewhere between page 30 and page 50 and didn't give it another thought
2) I finished it only because I felt like I might as well
3) Even when I started enjoying it (somewhere between page 100 and 150, I think) I was plagued by the thoughts of all the other books that I could have been reading

Alice
Karen Harper set herself a challenging task: to balance the historical record of who William Shakespeare was with her speculation about a second Anne in his life, the Anne Whately who may have been a typo, but who Harper posits as a real person. Also, she had to write a story about Shakespeare without the connection to his writings feeling contrived or too neatly wrapped up. Third, she had to depict about 50 years in time without it feeling like a summary. In the second and third tasks, I feel s ...more
Smitha
Aug 19, 2013 Smitha rated it really liked it
I seem to be going through an Elizabethan phase, I’ve been picking up so many books from this era.

The fact that Shakespeare had married Anne Hathaway is a well known fact. What is not so well-known is that there is two days before Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, there exists a permission for him to marry Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton, a place close to Stratford-Upon-Avon. Two days later, some family friends of Anne Hathaway seem to have placed a bond for Shakespeare to marry Anne Hathaway S
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Mercedes Rochelle
Sep 01, 2016 Mercedes Rochelle rated it really liked it
Mistress Shakespeare was such a compelling title I couldn’t resist giving it a look. Checking the Author’s Note ahead of time (which I often do), I was surprised and intrigued to see that there is documentary evidence that William Shakespeare contracted to marry another woman the day before he was wed to Anne Hathaway. What a tantalizing opening for a historical novel! Shakespeare’s secret wife—another Anne—writes this book as a memoir, telling us about her love/hate relationship with the boy sh ...more
Leya
Feb 10, 2013 Leya rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book
I loved the story! I'm amazed that I enjoyed it so much, who would have thought....Let me explain, I enjoy Shakespeare as much as the next person, but during a class I took at University I had to dwell into his history, which there's isn't much, his life and works don't mesh together and there's a lot of historians that believe that Shakespeare the author was a completely different person. And let me say I do not know enough to have an opinion.

But that's the beauty of fiction, and this one real
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Alexandria
Sep 17, 2009 Alexandria rated it liked it
I enjoyed this novel about a possilble other love of William Shakespeare. It was interesting to have theorized the way William Shakespeare's plays come about, with Anne Whateley being his muse, inspiration and means of his poems and plays getting to the public. I liked how the author wove in lines from the plays. The descriptions of the plague and daily life and the intrigues of Elizabeth's reign were eyeopening and quiet intersting. The desciption of Maud's death of the black death are heartren ...more
Cheryl
Mar 10, 2010 Cheryl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-edition
Just okay. I was really looking forward to this because like most, the whole back story of: "Was there really another Anne?" "Who was she?" "What happened to her?" was pretty fascinating. I knew going in that this was a novel, not non-fiction, but to me, this read more like a teen love story. Even the language in "Shakespeare In Love" was more complex than this. The character of William Shakespeare just seemed so ... simple-minded, which then had my mind wandering to the notion that if he was re ...more
Barbara
In the reviews here on Goodreads, it seems this book got mostly three stars. I'm giving it five stars because I really loved it. Yes, there were moments that I thought were somewhat annoying, but Karen Harper is a Shakespeare scholar and if this is indeed her theory of Shakespeare's Dark Lady, I think she really did an excellent job with this story.

I loved all the references to Shakespeare's many plays, and there were so many quotes from his plays, poetry, and sonnets, which made the book all t
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Maree Waters
Aug 19, 2016 Maree Waters rated it it was amazing
Thank you to my beautiful daughter Autumn May for sending me this book.
Firstly I have not studied nor read any of William Shakespeare's works, for this reason I probably would not have picked this book off the shelf myself. However Mistress Shakespeare did not disappoint, in fact it has piqued my interest! Mistress Shakespeare is a well researched novel based in the Tudor period. The story starts in 1601 with the prologue, then takes you back to 1564 telling the story of Anne Whateley's relation
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Patricia Bracewell
Jul 26, 2012 Patricia Bracewell rated it liked it
I liked the concept of this book, although it was just a touch too romantic for me. It reminded me a little of the film "Shakespeare in Love", but it is more from the woman's point of view.

Harper has done her homework regarding the history. I wish, though, that I could have gotten more emotionally involved in the book. Part of the problem is me. I've invented my own William Shakespeare -- we each do that, I think, drawing our own conclusions about this man from reading his plays. Harper's Shakes
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Miriam
Jun 06, 2016 Miriam rated it it was amazing
I could not put this wonderful romance, historical fiction piece down. I learned lots about Shakespeare, life in the late 1590s, and about his two loves. Best of all, it's the perfect read to prepare for this year of Shakespeare and the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death.

Of course, it's fiction, but Karen Harper does such a great job at historical fiction, you'll find it's as close to the truth as she can discover.
Read and enjoy!
Nae
May 19, 2016 Nae rated it it was amazing
It never ceases to amaze me how timely the words of Shakespeare are even in today's world :) This was a swirling, mesmerizing tale of the "perhaps that might have happened" behind the words, sensuous and flowing, that Shakespeare wrote and I have to admit I enjoyed pretty much every word in this book of a possible mistress and how that may have impacted the plays and sonnets he wrote. This book came to me through the Goodreads giveaways and I am oh so glad that it did.
Sally
May 25, 2013 Sally rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was a frustrating read. I was fascinated by the idea of Shakespeare's 'other wife' and the characters were well drawn and believable. But as a whole, the book didn't work for me. Although there were several points where doom threatened, I never really believed that the worst would happen - and it didn't. I felt like I was following them from averted crisis to averted crisis, so there was no real suspense or feeling of real danger. Although the narrator tells us at each bad turn that she was ...more
Cynthia
Dec 31, 2016 Cynthia rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. I love that time period and really had no idea that drama was such a world of intrigue, treachery, betrayal and violence back in ye daye of yore. The whole spy web network was fascinating but since the protagonists, who are supposed to be sympathetic, are engaged in adultery throughout, just doesn't sit with me. True love yadayadayada, adultery is wrong and don't expect me to feel sorry for you when - gasp! it doesn't work out as one might have desired.
Leslie
Mar 23, 2009 Leslie rated it liked it
There are three big mysteries pertaining to William Shakespeare: Did he really write all those plays and sonnets, what happened to him during the lost years between grammar school and acting on the stage in London, and lastly whom did he marry? It is generally thought he married (very quickly because she was with child) Anne Hathaway of Stratford, but in the same official record where this marriage is recorded there is another made just days before with the name William Shakespeare and a woman n ...more
Joanna
Oct 09, 2013 Joanna rated it it was ok
Mistress Shakespeare had so much potential, yet it ultimately did not live up to my expectations. The idea of a secret and forbidden love affair is romantic and will attract many readers. However, this novel lacks the intensity Romeo and Juliet had. With all due respect to Karen Harper, I found the plotline boring because it quickly becomes repetitive and tiresome. Points of suspense are practically non-existent, and I actually felt relief when I finished the last page.

This book’s main problem
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MyGoodBookshelf
Published as 'Shakespeare's Mistress' in the UK.

I had such high hopes for this novel. It’s a book that I’ve really wanted to read given that I am interested in both Shakespeare and Elizabethan times. That’s why it pains me to say that to be honest, it was a bit of a let down and a story that I struggled to finish.

I do commend the author for writing this novel and weaving a believable scenario out of something that has long been pure speculation: the notion that prior to his marriage to Anne Hat
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Merry Bones
Mar 29, 2012 Merry Bones rated it liked it
I wish half stars were an option; I can't quite give it 4 stars, but 3 stars isn't quite generous enough. I did enjoy the book and learned more about William Shakespeare in the process as I'm more familiar with his writings than his personal life. I like stories that take a history mystery and present a feasible "what if" scenario, and this was a fun read.

The story entails this: what if the back-to-back marriage records at the Register at Worcester were not the result of a "clerical error" but
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Christie
My entrance to this world was in the same year as Will's, 1564, though he made an appearance in the spring and I in the autumn.

It is a well-known fact that William Shakespeare was married to Anne Hathaway. What is not so well-known though is that in the church register that records this fact there is another record of Shakespeare marrying an Anne Whateley a few days before the wedding to the other Anne. It is this Anne's life that Karen Harper explores in Mistress Shakespeare. What if there wa
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Dana
Jun 24, 2016 Dana rated it liked it
There is no shortage of conspiracy theories surrounding Shakespeare. Usually the most pondered is the question of whether he really wrote his plays. But, in Mistress Shakespeare the myth that Will had a wife prior to marrying his well known wife Anne Hathaway was explored. Anne Whately was a girl of Will's age who grew up with him in Stratford-Upon-Avon. According to the author, they married in secret just before Anne Hathaway's family forced Will to marry her to legitimize the baby she was carr ...more
Deborah Pickstone
It was obvious that this novel would have to be more fictional than strictly historical but as history it was full of howlers. I read in awful fascination and could not put it down just because I had to see what KH's next turpitude would be. Not all were historical and some were almost hysterical.

Here are a few issues - some may seem minor matters to you but Ms Harper is a historian, apparently, and has a background that suggests competency in research. So why does she not demonstrate her knowle
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Margaret Fisher
Wow, what a ridiculous, annoying, foolish book. First of all, let's ignore the fact that most historians agree upon the fact that William Shakespeare was gay and turn what was probably a faulty record into one of the most irritating books I've ever read.

There are actually MANY things that piss me off about this book:
1) Elizabethan England was so culturally rich! Karen Harper could have written so much about what things looked like, what London looked like, felt like, sounded like, smelled like!
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Gerald Sinstadt
Oct 27, 2011 Gerald Sinstadt rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction-general
Karen Harper is at pains to establish her credentials. In this book and in interviews she refers to having built up "quite a Tudor library", to having made numerous trips to the British Isles, bringing back "many booklets, pamphlets and photos" of places visited. Anyone who reads Shakespeare's Mistress will not quarrel with her self-description as a "Tudormaniac."

The problem with this book, which is based upon some evidence that Shakespeare married twice, is that it overlays serious historical f
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Annette
Feb 11, 2016 Annette rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
History is not clear about Shakespeare whom he married. It is accepted by most historians that he married Anne Hathaway. The mystery of Anne Whateley remains.

The author weaves a captivating story of Mistress Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton, located outside Stratford-Upon-the-Avon, where Will Shakespeare is from. Anne tells her story, first of friendship, then of love to Will. They meet as youngsters. Anne notices early on that no matter what obstacle are thrown at Will; he is determined to be a
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 13, 2015 11:03AM  
Beyond Mr. Darcy:...: November 2013: Mistress Shakespeare 6 10 Dec 09, 2013 04:29PM  
  • All the Queen's Players
  • His Last Letter: Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester
  • The Perfect Royal Mistress
  • By Royal Decree (Secrets of the Tudor Court, #3)
  • The Countess and the King: A Novel of the Countess of Dorchester and King James II
  • Plain Jane
  • Marrying Mozart
  • The People's Queen
  • Young Bess (Elizabeth Trilogy, #1)
  • Pale Rose of England: A Novel of the Tudors
  • The Rose Without a Thorn (Queens of England, #11)
  • The Flower Reader
  • The King's Daughter
  • Wicked Company
  • O, Juliet
  • The Queen's Handmaiden
  • A Question of Guilt: A Novel of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Death of Henry Darnley
  • Death And The Virgin: Elizabeth, Dudley and the Mysterious Fate of Amy Robsart
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A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Karen Harper is a former college English instructor (The Ohio State University) and high school literature and writing teacher. A lifelong Ohioan, Karen and her husband Don divide their time between the midwest and the southeast, both locations she has used in her books. Besides her American settings, Karen loves the British Isles, where her Scott ...more
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