REVIEWED BY DEBS CARR
Anne Whateley, is a young woman who was born in the same year as William Shakespeare. Her mother, an Italian ropedancer, died when she was young and it is because of her that Anne's complexion, hair and eyes are far darker than that of her friends. She lives with her father and knows Will by sight, but when Anne persuades Will to help her go to Kenilworth, so she can see Queen Elizabeth, he ends up rescuing her and the two become much closer.
Through various disappointments and losses the two fall in love and eventually marry in secret. However, soon after their wedding, Will is persuaded to marry Anne Hathaway, a woman he insists he is not in love with, but who is pregnant with his child. No one is aware that Anne Whateley is his legal wife and she is devastated at his betrayal. When her father dies she leaves Temple Grafton and everything familiar to her to go and live with friends in London.
Shakespeare's Mistress is obviously well researched. The story starts in 1601 when Anne is questioned by Queen Elizabeth's men. They are suspicious of Will's loyalties and decide to question her. The story, written in five acts, then goes back to 1564 and is Anne Whateley telling the story of her relationship with Will from when they were young until his death.
The detail brings the book to life, but the Tudor English does make the book a little harder to read than most. I should think that if you were looking for a beautifully researched novel based in the Tudor period this one would be perfect. I think it's a matter of personal taste and preference.
You can find out more about Karen Harper and her books on her website.