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The Tutor

3.17  ·  Rating details ·  504 ratings  ·  123 reviews
A bold and captivating novel about love, passion, and ambition that imagines the muse of William Shakespeare and the tumultuous year they spend together. 

The year is 1590, and Queen Elizabeth’s Spanish Armada victory has done nothing to quell her brutal persecution of the English Catholics. Katharine de L’Isle is living at Lufanwal Hall, the manor of her uncle, Sir Edwar
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 5th 2015 by Riverhead Books
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Average rating 3.17  · 
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Apr 20, 2015 rated it liked it
For me, this was two books. The book about the persecution of Catholics under Queen Elizabeth was touching, tragic and inspiring. The other book was about the protagonist's relationship with William Shakespeare. This storyline was lurid, cynical and totally uninspiring. The only link between the two story lines is that the protagonist was involved in both of them. I sincerely wish that Shakespeare had never crossed her path.

Other reviews call Shakespeare, as portrayed in this novel, evil. I'm no
Betsy Robinson
Oct 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who love Shakespeare and historical fiction
This is the sexy story of fictional Katharine who becomes the tutor (muse, editor) of William Shakespeare; it is also the story of every woman who has ever fallen for a narcissist. History buffs and people who glory in the details of other times and want to experience them firsthand will be in Elizabethan heaven. Well-researched, The Tutor is so detailed in the minutia of everyday living that you see, feel, and sometimes even smell the times.

However, I'm a twentieth-century heathen. And when I w
Dec 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This historical novel deals with a dark and tragic period for a leading family in England still clinging to their Catholic faith despite the outlawing of those practices. Will Shakespeare, in this tale, is a crass womanizer, intent upon using everything at his disposal to tempt women. In the case of our protagonist, the temptation involves words and poetry. Most of the book deals with the obsessive behavior associated with unrequited love, felt by the protagonist towards Shakespeare; a very 21st ...more
Alex Myers
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Dove right in to this well-researched and well-written tale of Shakespeare and his muse... The setting and characters were developed fully, which made the story all the more engrossing. The last third or quarter of the book was, in my opinion, not as good as the opening sections -- the ending felt a little rushed. Or perhaps that was just me wanting the story to go on for longer!

Anyone looking to dip into historical waters and immerse themselves will enjoy this one!
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-read
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway.

I have read a few historical fictions recently, and this is my favourite. Perhaps it is because the author had more leeway with her subjects as it is an unknown time in Shakespeare's life.

There are a few interesting elements to this story that kept me reading, including the lives of women in the Elizabethan era, being Catholic in that same era, and the imagining's of Shakespeare's start as a poet and his early life as a playwright and player. Will and
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Tutor is a well researched, warm, and imaginative look at Shakespeare and English history during his lost years. Since mysteries abound with Shakespeare, and we know so little about him at certain times of his lives, there is ore to be mined, and Ms. Chapin does so, heavily addressing several different questions regarding Will and his life and times.

Katharine de L’Isle is a passionate, intelligent young widow. Living on the goodness of her dear uncle is his family's large manor home, she mee
This book was very well researched, and I loved seeing the struggle of being Catholic, the many holiday celebrations, the gender roles and class rules and day to day lives.

The idea was fascinating: in one of his lost years, Will Shakespeare seduces a widow who inspires him to write poetry even as she fears he will leave her and go back to London. But the sheer scope of foreshadowing of his evil nature, mimicked in the secret lives of the supporting characters, made the story trudge on as Katheri
Elizabeth Gaffney
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read an early copy of this juicy and smart book about one of the lost years of Shakespeare's early life. The heroine is amazing. You will love spending time with her and Will Shakespeare. Highly recommended!
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some historians believe that during part of Shakespeare's "lost" years, he may have worked as a tutor in the wealthy estates of Catholic families in Lancashire. For one thing, there is some evidence that Shakespeare was a secret Catholic. For another thing, some of these wealthy lords left things in their wills to Shakespeare. (Although there is no explanation as to how they knew him.) I love hidden histories, and was really excited to find this book, which is built upon that premise.

Brad Bogus
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I'm a total Shakespeare nerd, and that's what brought me here. I stayed for Kate, however, because her journey in this book felt palpably real. The emotional swings she experiences as a character were the swings I took as a reader. The encounters with Shakespeare feel so authentic to the style of banter found in his romance plays. I was reading each Kate/Will interaction with a huge smile on my face, truly enjoying the work of the author. I highly recommend reading this, parti ...more
Nov 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
First, wise editors are in far shorter supply than great writers. To propose that just because a widow is well-read for the times, she could move from not even noting the poor quality of the first set of sonnets she reads to actually being Shakespeare's formative critic, guiding him to nobly suffer slings and arrows until Venus and Adonis is crafted into a masterpiece is absurd.

Second, one doesn't make a novel historical by tossing in lists of what was sold at market, or changing "so" to "forsoo
Feb 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway, first-reads
I received an ARC of Andrea Chapin's The Tutor compliments of Goodreads Firstreads Giveaway and appreciated the opportunity.

I was easily drawn into the times and drama in this fictional portrayal of the lost years of William Shakespeare. The author was well-researched and described the architecture, attire and religion in great detail. The novel held poetry throughout the pages, a tribute to Shakespeare and his writing. I was taken back to the time of kings and queens, the hardships and the life
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Book # 29 Read in 2015
The Tuor by Andrea Chapin

This book was a good historical fiction read, telling about Katherine and her dalliance with William Shakespeare. It detailed the religious persecution of that time, the limited rights of women and how marriage matches were made. Katherine was an intelligent, interesting character. Over 300 pages long, the writing flowed nicely and made this a quick read. I enjoyed it. I borrowed this book from my local library.
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I loved the unique perspective of life at the time period and William Shakespeare's life. The main character is relatable and the author does a great job of making the characters come to life. I would highly recommend this!
Jan 02, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
We don't know much about Shakespeare's personal life, so it's entirely possible that he was a proto-pickup artist, right?
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, history
The Tutor is billed on the cover as an “account of William Shakespeare’s muse in 1590s England.” I’ll try not to add any other spoilers.

First, I salute Chapin’s hutzpah in even attempting to write dialogue spoken by Shakespeare. She succeeded, too. Readers will be reminded of Shakespeare in Love in the way phrases and information from plays get worked into the novel’s dialogue.

Chapin must have suffered great headaches of research, since she was able to plant us firmly in time and place with deta
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I read this book during a layover, and devoured it (I read the whole thing, cover to cover, in two and a half hours)! Chapin's utilization of wit allows this book to read like a Shakespearean comedy, whilst also displaying a portrait of Shakespeare not often displayed in fiction. The heroine, even as a romantic interest, truly challenges Shakespeare in his work, but ultimately as a person (and boy was that ending satisfying)! I do wish that there had been more exploration into Katherine's own li ...more
Melissa Crespy
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed this novel. I enjoyed the literary bantering between Katherine and Will (Shakespeare), and the historical setting of the time when Catholicism was basically outlawed in England by the Queen. I enjoyed many of the characters, and the behind the scenes dramas being played by other members of the household. I'd love to visit some of the mansions mentioned in the book - I believe one is still standing. Very enjoyable.
Elizabeth Mcnair
The time is 1590 and William Shakespeare is a tutor for a Catholic family in England (when Catholics were killed and Protestants were revered). A young woman falls in love with the tutor and sets a course for what her future will be.
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Sadly, couldn't connect to any of the characters. Some parts were very interesting history wise but other ones totally lost me.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Interesting premise; poorly developed.
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved it!
Stacie (MagicOfBooks)
I will also do a video review here at my channel:

In "The Tutor" by Andrea Chapin, the year is 1590 and Katharine de L'Isle is happy with her life at Lufanwal Hall. Queen Elizabeth is stil unwavering in her persecution of English Catholics, and Katharine is shocked when the family priest is found murdered on the side of the road. The de L'Isle family is adrift in household turmoil. But during all this, a new schoolmaster by the name of William Shakespeare arriv
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
My only regret, with the advanced digital galley I received, for a book due to be released on Feb. 5, is that I allowed myself too much time and too many lengthy gaps. This threw off a rhythm that only recently got me through a lot of exciting pages, and allowed me to finish the book. As the story involving Katharine progressed, I found myself more and more invested by her daily life. Then, comes Will. He's a charmer, which is ultimately what propels the many facets of romance (that I cared most ...more
Feb 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Expanding on the turbulence of late 1500’s England, where Catholic persecution started in Henry VIII’s reign would soon give rise to the Gunpowder Plot, now most celebrated as Guy Fawkes Day with bonfires. In this novel, Andrea Chapin has captured the secretive and persecuted nature of the secret Catholics in this story, as she introduces us to Katharine de L’Isle, a widow living with her uncle. Resigned to a life of reading, spending time with cousins but without love. When her Uncle’s priest i ...more
Celia Moontown
Aug 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What would it be like to run into a twenty-six year old William Shakespeare? Whether you have studied him for years or adore two lines from Romeo and Juliet, this book is suited for anyone curious about the man who owns the biggest share in English literary education. Its gorgeously detailed and rich in history. Chapin has it all down: dialect, food, architecture, politics, people, publications...

Its 1590, rural Lancashire, and I can practically smell the dry fields from the first paragraph. Ka
Dec 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I got a free ARC copy of this book from the First to Read program by Penguin Books in exchange for my honest opinion.

This historical novel offers a new view of one of those lost years in the life of William Shakespeare, interwoven with the historical account of the prosecution of Catholicism during the reign of Elizabeth I in the 16th century. Katharine De L'Isle is a widow who goes to live with her family at Lufanwall Hall after her husband's death. There, she spends her days helping to educate
Andy Winder
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Katharine de L’Isle is Catholic in a period where the English really didn’t like Catholics. She is intelligent and spends much of her days reading poetry or helping about her uncle’s manor with her nephews. She has been widowed for about ten years, but doesn’t seem to mind it. The murder of the Catholic schoolmaster and priest who practiced on the manor sparks up her love life when he is replaced with a Stratford-living fellow named William Shakespeare.

Originally, he doesn’t impress Katharine.
William Shakespeare was once a mediocre tutor who "fell in love".

This is the man we never knew.

This novel has marketed itself with the tagline "William Shakespeare like we have never known before." Something around those lines. I find it funny, and yes, a little fitting. The Shakespeare in this book is a pre famous Shakespeare, who goes to a woman to fix his sonnets. He's still cocky, but not as so. He was an interesting and fun character to read. There was a realness to him; a weakness and a cr
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
William Shakespeare. That alone will get me to read on. But add to that an imagining of his life circa 1590 and I'm super sold on the idea. This rendition of what Shakespeare's life could have been is intricately explored in Andrea Chapin's book The Tutor, due out in February 2015.

To read this, and other book reviews, visit my website:

The central protagonist Katharine's life has been anything but pleasant. Her life has been plagued by the death of loved
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Andrea Chapin is the author of The Tutor (Riverhead Book/Penguin Random House), a novel that imagines a year in the life of William Shakespeare. Chapin has acted professionally, touring Germany in Edward Albee’s Seascape. She has been an editor at art, movie, theater, and literary magazines, such as The Paris Review, Conjunctions, and The Lincoln Center Theater Review, and has written for More, Re ...more

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