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review 2018-05-04 15:25
Out June 30
Imagining Shakespeare's Wife: The Afterlife of Anne Hathaway - Katherine West Scheil

Disclaimer: ARC via Cambridge University Press and Netgalley.  Read in exchange for a fair review.

 

                I have some deal breakers when it comes to the books I read.  I am not fond, sometimes even hate, books where the eldest sibling is by default the bad one.  I am fond of wives being blamed for their husbands porking anything that moves.  I judge Shakespeare biographies by how the writer treats Anne Hathaway.

 

                No, you fool, not the actress.

 

                Shakespeare’s wife.

 

                A few years, Germaine Greer published Shakespeare’s Wife, a biography/study of Anne Hathaway.  In large part, Greer’s book seemed to be a rebuttal to Stephen Greenblatt’s harsh attack on Hathaway in his Will in the World.  Katherine West Scheil’s book, Imagining Shakespeare’s Wife, also takes Greenblatt to task, but Scheil’s purpose to look at how the image or reputation of Shakespeare’s wife reflects on the period in which a work is published.

 

                While Scheil does seem partial to Anne, the beginning of the book, dealing with the known facts of Hathaway’s life is fair.  Scheil remembers that there is no way we can do for sure what exactly happened between the Shakespeares.  She presents the facts, she presents the debates, but she keeps her view out and lets the reader reach a decision, if the reader wants to.  The rest of the book deals largely with how people at various times have viewed Anne Hathaway.  As Scheil notes, many times writers have made their Anne Hathaway as opposed to writing about the real Hathaway.

 

                This starts, in part, Scheil notes with the romance of the Anne Hathaway Cottage – which, to be frank, you can understand the romance part because it is absolutely beautiful.  Scheil notes that the one time owner and tour guide of the house, Mary Baker, had connections to the Hathaways and was, in part, making sure of her family’s connection to the Bard of Avon.  My guess is that Mary Baker was getting a bit pissed off about all the people standing on Anne Hathaway’s grave to get a better look at her husbands.  Taking about wiping their feet on the woman.

 

                ON the other hand, Scheil notes that the anti-Anne venom was set by Malone whose biography of Shakespeare was one of the earliest.  She even ties Malone’s view of Anne to his proving the Ireland forgeries as fakes.  We then tour other early biographies and fictional accounts, all of which even the non-fiction, seem to be proto-fanfiction if not outright fanfiction.

 

                The analysis is best when looking at recent authors, though she doesn’t fully account Peter Ackroyd’s unwillingness to admit to certain sexual misconduct on the part of his heroes – she acknowledges Ackroyd’s seeming blindness of a sexual relationship between the Shakespeares before marriage as willful disregard of the time of their daughter’s birth, but Ackroyd also contorts himself in regards to Dickens extra-marital life as well.  Scheil doesn’t pull punches, and if you, like me, were luke- warm to Greenblatt, Scheil aims and hits torpedoes at him.

 

                Hence I love her.

 

                It is a bit of surprise that Greer’s book doesn’t get more coverage.  The response, in many cases unfair and overly harsh, is noted, but Scheil gives little speculation why – is it due to sexism or how someone suggest that Hathaway might have been worthy (or over worthy) of our Shakespeare?  Additionally, she doesn’t ponders some of the more reaching claims of Greer, which also fall into the realm of this book.  Greer’s book is a must read, but surely some of her conclusions were also influenced by feminist views.  It seems strange not to discuss this year.

 

                The most horrifying aspect of the back is the discussion of the modern historical romance novels and movies (such as Shakespeare in Love).  This is not because of Scheil’s writing, but of some of the response of readers and movie viewers as well as the writers who have a tendency to either write Anne of as Shrew who deserves to have her husband cheat on her (common) to an Anne who embodies the traditional good wife that young female reader should aim to be (less common).  There is some hope, though.  Scheil covers more recent works that are fairer to Anne in terms of fiction.  Her book about Hathaway will also add to your must read shelf, if you are a Shakespeare fan.

 

                Considering the mutability of Shakespeare the man, it is hardly surprising that Anne Hathaway has become a channel on which writers sail their version of Shakespeare – family man, unhappy husband, child of nature.  It is too Scheil’s credit that while she presents and discusses these myriad Annes, she always keeps the reader aware of the true Anne, the one who we cannot know, who is impossible to know, but who deserves to be acknowledged simply because she is human.

 

Highly recommended.

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review 2018-05-03 12:36
A Real Sense of Otherness: "Exit West" by Mohsin Hamid
Exit West - Mohsin Hamid

I wonder if I might share some personal thoughts and experiences about SF in order to shed light on the way I read "Exit West"?

 

I must have been about 6 or 7 when I was in big trouble at school for refusing to read the books we were given, and disrupting lessons as a diversion. Janet and John's escapades were incredibly dull, I thought. My grandmother, and my mother must have got talking, because I shall never forget that first Wednesday evening when The Eagle landed on the mat at the front door. There was Dan Dare blasting off in the Anastasia to who knows where, with Digby and co, and I just had to know what they were saying in those speech bubbles. So I taught myself to read through SF, and interest in the genre, to varying degrees, stayed with me all my life. (As a matter of interest, I went from bottom of the class to top in reading, in less than a year!).

 

I read my first SF novel, Wells' "War of The Worlds", hiding in my bedroom in Lisbon, aged 14. Much of the SF I grew up on was about adventures in outer space, alien invasion, fear of the unknown, coming mainly through radio, TV, and comics. In the 80's, we had “Journey into Space” on the radio, and “Twilight Zone” on TV. The movies gave us “Them,” “The Day The Earth Stood Still”, ”Earth vs The Flying Saucers”, “Things To Come”, all about thrills and excitement. During the 90's and 2000's, more novels and short story collections began to appear, together with a number of blockbuster movies. But for most people in the Portugal, SF meant “Space 1999”, and “Star Trek”.

 

 

If you're into SF, read on.

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review 2018-04-29 15:29
"The Cat Bagger's Apprentice", by C.J. West
The Cat Bagger's Apprentice (Marking Time) - CJ West

Making Time book #2

Mr. West is great at tricking his readers’ imagination by leading us in one direction knowing full well that it was a ruse all along. Mid-way some of us will surely think we have figured out where the story was leading but hold tight you are in for a surprise, at the last moment he always pulls a curve and the results are far from what we may have presumed…..

Since it is a recurring theme that follows “The End of Making Time” although preferable, I really do not think it is a must to read it first. Re-education of the criminal justice system has revolutionized America: where once caught, you are arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced all in one day. In book #2 we have the story of computer hacker, Jordan Voss and what happens to him once he is moved to a special apartment where everything he does is monitored.

Change perspective and you will enjoy this story. The premise has its own merits, is quite original and gripping most of the time. It is one drama that does not reveal itself until the very last chapter, great twist. The best part in this story is how we are pulled into the characters psyche, bad and evil they will make you think….

Of course this book has a weird concept of the justice system but seen through the eyes of an author with great imagination is something to think about although I really do not think it would ever happen….well I hope so.

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review 2018-04-27 11:21
Lucky In Love Kasie West
Lucky in Love - Kasie West

Go To Bridget Blogs Books For My Thoughts.....(opens in new window/tab)

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review 2018-04-12 07:29
Pivot Point (#1) by Kasie West
Pivot Point - Kasie West

Bridget Blogs Books

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