Loving Will Shakespeare

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
September/October 2007

By Carolyn Meyer, Reviewed by Kelsey May

Loving Will Shakespeare book cover

Loving Will Shakespeare by Carolyn Meyer;
Harcourt Children’s Books: New York,
2006; $17

History is a great topic. When you combine that with William Shakespeare, the greatest poet in Europe, you have a story so intriguing it takes only a few days to read, once you get hooked. Loving Will Shakespeare by Carolyn Meyer is a realistic fiction book that takes place during the sixteenth century. It’s a story of Agnes (Anne) growing up and interacting with Will Shakespeare, who’s younger by seven years, who adores her. In her story she struggles to develop relationships with many men before finally appreciating Will. Although Will pops up throughout the story, he doesn’t become a major part of Anne’s life until the end. It’s a down-to-earth story with festivals, many births, and Anne farming the land under her cruel stepmother’s direction. If you take pleasure in fast-paced stories, Loving Will Shakespeare is perfect for you.

I truly enjoyed reading this charming book. I often found myself advising Anne in my head because she, like all of us, makes mistakes. She is a mistreated daughter who longs to find love. She is neglected by her father, and she argues viciously with her stepmother, Joan. Although he loves her, Anne’s father is too overwhelmed by his workload to pay much attention to Anne, which I find absolutely awful. Could you imagine if neither of your parents cared in the least about you, but they expected you to care for their children and the farm as well? Throughout the story, her friends and family all find “the right person,” leaving Anne unsatisfied and alone.

I can relate to Anne because both of us have to cope with rowdy, younger stepsisters. It is obvious that Anne much prefers her own sister to her cruel stepsister, Joan Little. Joan Little, an ill-tempered little girl, spies on Anne and threatens to tattle on her whenever she makes even a tiny mistake.

The author, Carolyn Meyer, proved that some relationships are not destined to be. I find Anne’s struggles to be very emotionally touching. Anne discovers this through the many love disappointments in her life. First comes Kit Swallow, a poor sheepshearer with a sweet disposition. Alas, he flees from authorities hot on his trail. Next Anne encounters Edward Stinchcomb, whom she falls deeply in love with. Hob Ingram appears third. Anne’s stepmother forces Anne to betroth herself to him. She is obliged to accept, but after she realizes the effect this could have on her life, she gladly declines the offer. Each man deserts her. After these numerous love letdowns, Anne couldn’t have been more exhilarated to have Will enter her life.

When Anne gives Will a chance, she is thoroughly pleased with the result. They fall deeply in love, but Will pursues his true passion, poetry and playwriting. He ends up making a choice that affects the entire book. I enjoy happily-ever-after endings, so I was rather disappointed by the outcome, but that’s life. Life can be both harsh and rewarding, and both are a part of Anne’s adult life.

I was delighted in how true-to-life Loving Will Shakespeare was. It had ups and downs, a perfect balance of glamorous times and melancholy moments.

Loving Will Shakespeare Kelsey May

Kelsey May,13
Grand Rapids, Michigan

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