This book is not the first to imagine what William Shakespeare could have been doing during the “lost year” from his real history. However, I found the story of the heroine Katharine de L’Isle the most interesting part of this book. Here, William Shakespeare is portrayed as a tutor to the boys at Lufanwal Hall where Katharine resides and as a charming rapscallion. He begins a relationship with the widowed Katharine, presumably to obtain her help with this writing. He also has a few other reasons, but in the interest of leaving some things for readers to discover, I will refrain from letting the cat out of the bag.
Through a series of flattery and hinting at a more physical relationship, William pulls Katharine to him while bathing in her adulation of him. This relationship continues while William is less than honest with her. Unfortunately, Katharine becomes caught up in an imaged affair with the poet/player. While all this is going on, her family falls upon hard times, and various members of her extended family die. This of course has a direct impact upon her life and what will become of her.
Chapin weaves her story using the historical facts of life for women at that time-period. Katharine’s actions could easily have destroyed any semblance of a life if she had been found out. She is such a sympathetic character that you find yourself caught completely up in her story. William Shakespeare’s rendering in this book is an interesting take on this historical figure. In all, I recommend this book. I found it entertaining and an interesting read. I also really liked the character of Katharine de L’Isle. Very good!