Allison's Reviews > Shakespeare: The World as Stage

Shakespeare by Bill Bryson
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Aug 09, 2011

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Read from August 09 to September 14, 2011

When I saw that Bryson was writing a book on Shakespeare, I decided I must have it.

And I set to reading it straightaway. Unfortunately, I couldn't get past the first few chapters. It took me three attempts over the course of two years to finally get through the book.

I think part of the problem I had with it was the fact that the material was quite thin. I am not sure if this is necessarily the fault of Bryson, given that the honest truth is there is very little we really know about Shakespeare, but I guess I really expected, perhaps wanted, something more substantial than what I got.

I had issues with the pacing of the book as well. It plodded along in many parts, most particularly when trying to exegise what it was like to live in Shakespeare's time. Perhaps because of my background as a lawyer, which enjoys a good tearing apart of evidence, I found the more interesting sections involved the analysis of the available information, the arguments for an against certain conclusions being drawn, but there was not enough of this - only the last chapter.

So while I did take some things out of this book, and appreciate the attempt that was made to write this, it seems to lack something that I have found in good writers covering dry topics - the ability to make it incredibly interesting.

Which is unfortunate, because I have heard so many good things about Bryson as an author. This being the first book of his that I've read, has meant that I might not now pick up another of his for awhile.

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