Monday, March 3, 2014

The Gentleman Poet by Kathryn Johnson

10 cents at a library book sale. That's how much I paid for this book. (Don't you just love a bookish bargain?) And after reading it, I have to say it's worth a lot more than that. This novel is a perfect combination of love, survival, adventure, and Shakespeare.

It's 1609. The Sea Venture is sailing for Jamestown when it encounters a storm which causes it to wreck off the coast of Bermuda, the "dreaded Devil's Isles". Among the ship's stranded passengers are Elizabeth Miranda Persons, a young servant girl, and William Strachey, the ship's historian who is really William Shakespeare in disguise. Then there's Thomas Powell, the ship's cook, who hopes to win Elizabeth Miranda's heart.

This novel is a skillful weaving of truth and fiction, history and fantasy, with a little of Shakespeare's The Tempest thrown in for good measure. Johnson ably captures the feel of the 1600s without slowing down the plot. It's mostly Elizabeth Miranda's story, but also the story of the crew and passengers who survived the very real "storm and wreck" of the Sea Venture. Be warned, though, the ending is a bit abrupt. I enjoyed this read. And Bermuda sounds beautiful...I wouldn't mind spending a month, or two, there (without the shipwreck, of course). But I think it's the Shakespearean quotes that Johnson puts at the beginning of each chapter that I liked most of all.

Happy Reading!

4 comments:

  1. Interesting premise, but if you hadn't given this a thumbs up, I would've simply dismissed this. Much as I love historical fiction, I tend to not care for this type of thing--I think I would prefer a straight up adaptation of The Tempest rather than having a Shakespeare character thrown in...but it does sound like it worked.

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    1. I would love to read a great adaptation of The Tempest. This book isn't an A, but I'd give it a B.

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  2. This sounds fun. This sort of homage book can be really hit or miss, so it's good to know that this one is a winner!

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    1. It's her writing that really helps it along.

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