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.