The Players: A Novel of the Young Shakespeare–Stephanie Cowell

I’ve always wondered how Shakespeare could write such beautiful love poetry and leave his wife and children in Stratford.  Cowell’s novel tries to give us that answer.  She begins with Shakespeare as a young man and traces his lusty relationship with Anne and follows him into London as he flees from that suffocating sense of the ordinary life sans passion that stretches out before him.  Cowell’s story argues that Shakespeare’s famous love sonnets were written for the Earl of Southampton, with whom she portrays Shakespeare as having a rapid and wild affair through their shared lover, Emilia.

As with her novel portraying the early life and loves of Mozart, Cowell manages to humanize the legend and rekindle my interest in his work.

Finished 5/22/12


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