Author’s note: This book is meant for mature audiences
When, in the spring of 1592, fictional eighteen-year-old Constance Shakespeare joins her brother, Will, in London, she is in for any number of surprises. Expecting opportunities not available under her father’s domination in Stratford, she finds life in London far more complicated and challenging, yet exhilarating, than she could possibly have imagined. She must learn to navigate a city teeming with a range of characters from aristocrats to common folk, from the highly educated to the illiterate, from the honest to the con artist, from the highly moral to a would-be rapist. Most of all, she has to cope with her brilliant but stubborn and, occasionally, narrow-minded brother. Along the way, she finds love, sexual intimacy, and friendship but also travels a path that sets her at odds with the strict conventions of Elizabethan society.
Shakespeare’s Younger Sister is lush with description and meticulously researched history. The characters are sharply drawn, luminous and memorable. The story itself is delightful, sensual, humorous at times, and evilly witty. Geoffrey Craig has created an unforgettable tableau of Elizabethan England at its worst and its best, and a young woman who is not afraid to embrace whatever life throws at her. Highly recommended. Sandy Raschke – Fiction Editor: Calliope
Geoffrey Craig’s Shakespeare’s Younger Sister, is a unique composite: part historical fiction, part fantasy and wholly original. Mr. Craig presents an unvarnished snapshot of Elizabethan England, warts and all. From the sewerage in the streets to the crowded markets to the squalor of plague riven 16th century London, he captures it all in well-researched detail. Against such harsh reality, he introduces Constance, Shakespeare’s imaginary younger sister.
Mr. Craig’s fictional Constance, who is 18 when we meet her in 1592, is both beautiful and intelligent. On the verge of womanhood, she has received a letter from her brother, Will, a struggling but self-impressed playwright, who needs her to join him in London to help maintain his household. Knowing their father would never approve, she sneaks off in the dead of night thus beginning a story of the psychological and moral growth of a young character.
Constance is a feminist. Constance is bisexual (not unlike William Shakespeare, himself, whose sonnets are addressed to both a “Fair Youth” and a “Dark Lady”). But more critically, it is Constance’s literary gifts and feminine sensibilities that insinuate themselves into her brother’s work as she demonstrates her talent as a writer and becomes his silent partner. As the novel’s cover – an attractive young woman contemplating Yorick’s skull from Hamlet – implies: the question at the core of Shakespeare’s Younger Sister is truly Constance’s own personal self-realization: “To be or not to be…?” Without question, this is a novel that demands the suspension of disbelief. But if one is willing to make that leap, Shakespeare’s Younger Sister is a rewarding read. Garner Simmons – Author: Peckinpah: A Portrait in Montage