I recently finished The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary L. Blackwood. It was a fun read, with likeable characters, good historical detail, and plenty of suspense and plot twists, though there was one twist that went too far, in my opinion. This prompted me to think about some of the other Shakespearean-inspired books I've read, and I decided to compile a list of them for you. (Yay!) Brevity is the soul of wit, so I'll try to briefly outline each book and give my opinion on it, but, judging from my previous posts, I have a tendency to go the Polonius route and write way more than I thought I would.
The Fool's Girl, by Celia Rees, is both a historical fiction about Shakespeare himself and a reimagining of one of his best-loved comedies, Twelfth Night. This novel picks up where the story of Twelfth Night leaves off, introducing Violetta, the daughter of Viola and Orsino, as the new heroine. When her home is destroyed, Violetta flees to London with her companion, Feste, and the two outcasts encounter William Shakespeare and his acting company, who agree to help the pair face off against their arch-nemesis, Malvolio. This book was doubly fun, because it gave me historical Shakespeare and a fantasy on one of his plays. The portrayal of Shakespeare in this novel is one of my favorite characterizations of the Bard; I found him likeable, clever, caring, and adventurous - in other words, everything that I like to think the real William Shakespeare actually was. And hey, Anne Hathaway was in this book! Not for very long, but still, I was excited! It's a fun adventure with sympathetic characters and plenty of historical detail.
More recent historical Shakespeare
Series: Images of America
It may just be because I really love the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, but I really enjoyed reading this book. It's not a novel, but a nonfiction compilation of the origins, development, and subsequent history of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival located in Ashland, Oregon. It's very informative and interesting, and it has great pictures, too.
Premiered: 24th August 1966, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland
Tom Stoppard's tragicomic play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is the author's rewriting, from a slightly different viewpoint and in a different literary style, of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Stoppard uses the two tangential characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to raise questions about language, literature, intertextuality, and the secret lives of an author's characters. Goodreads says this about it: "Hamlet told from the worm's-eye view of two minor characters, bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Echoes of Waiting for Godot resound, reality and illusion mix, and where fate leads heroes to a tragic but inevitable end." (Wait, did that make sense to you? Because it didn't to me.) Stoppard's play is witty, hilarious, dark, deep, and uncomfortable. And yes, they die at the end. Now don't you want to go read it?
Random Fun Shakespeare
This volume contains information about Shakespeare's life, each of his plays, and his poetry. It has beautiful full-color illustrations on just about every page. Basically it is the be-all and end-all of everything Shakespeare related.
If none of these works piqued your interest, there's a whole world of Shakespearean-related books that I haven't even touched on, because I haven't read them. Whether you want a non-fiction biography, a collection of Shakespeare's own writings, or a fantasy on some of his themes, there's something out there for you. Because, for William Shakespeare, all the world's a stage.