Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Two Loves of Will Shakespeare

The Two Loves of Will Shakespeare

Laurie Lawlor
Historical Fiction
For ages 14 and up
Holiday House, 2006   ISBN: 978-0823419012

Will is at that age when he cannot seem to stay out of trouble, stop chasing girls, not get drunk, and not disappoint his parents. Will would much rather sneak out to see a play than to stay and work in his father’s glove making work shop, and in his heart Will cannot help feeling that somewhere, elsewhere, there is a better life, a life that he is better suited to, a life which would him with “passion.” For now though he stays in the town where he grew up, barely avoiding the law and dreaming of running away to London to work for the a theatre company.

Then Will’s life becomes very complicated indeed. He falls in love with his best friend’s girl, Anne Whateley, to whom he writes numerous love sonnets. And he falls in lust with Anne Hathaway whom he meets secretly on frequent occasions. Will is determined to marry the pious Anne Whateley but his dalliances with Anne Hathaway have, it would appear, born fruit, and he is forced to marry her instead. Poor muddled headed Will. Will all his dreams of London, writing poetry, and being on the stage float away into nothingness to be replaced by a life of drudgery?

Based on a historical puzzle for which there is, as yet, no definite answer, Laurie Lawlor has crafted a fascinating story to explain why a young Will Shakespeare apparently wanted to marry two different women called Anne on two consecutive days. Lawlor used period documents and Will Shakespeare’s own writings to give her book a wonderfully authentic feel. Will’s youthful confusion and stumblings are so true to life that they are often painful to witness, but as we know that he does indeed find his way in the end, we can bear it with him and even smile when he wonders at the awful mistakes that he makes.

There can be no doubt that Laurie Lawlor is a master of the genre and we can but hope that she will continue to produce books of this excellent caliber in the future.