Reviewed by Erin N.

The “Shakespeare authorship question” is widely diverse in claims yet “almost without exception, they [Elizabethan literary historians] were agreed: Shakespeare’s marriage to Anne Hathaway was a youthful mistake in an otherwise glorious career.”

But, what if they are all wrong? What if Anne wasn’t a “homely, coarse, illiterate, immoral country wench,” but, instead, half of a duo that aimed to be the foremost writer in the Elizabethan patriarchal England? What if she were truly the most gifted of playwrights but the gender laws and perceptions of the times would never allow her work to see the light of day if she put her own name to her work? What if William Shakespeare was much more progressive than originally thought and was able to recognize a talent in the privacy of his own marriage?

Arliss Ryan’s The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare attempts to answer these hypothetical questions. Anne, an older woman, is seduced into literacy and then into pregnancy by a young and impetuous William Shakespeare. Caught up in the passion of their words and deeds, Anne turns up pregnant and forcibly married to Will.  She is also faced with the harsh realities of living with Will’s family who blames her for ruining their son’s life.

Three children later, Will abandons his family to chase his star in London. Shortly after, Anne follows Will to [amazonify]0451229959[/amazonify]escape the torment of her in-laws. Once in London, she takes up the guise of Will’s younger sister (his idea), takes up a needle to sew for the theaters, and ultimately takes up the quill to be part of the creative entity known throughout history as William Shakespeare.

Ryan creates an interesting alternative to what is commonly believed about William Shakespeare, Elizabethan England, and Anne Hathaway. The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare is a historical fiction that leads the reader to wonder how much of the story is really fiction…

Erin fell in love with the written word as a small child and subsequently spent most of her life happily devouring literature. She works as a freelance news, marketing, and technical writer. Erin lives just outside of Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

This book was provided free of any obligation by NAL Trade. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.