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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
The year is 1660 and Lady Elizabeth is once again bound to resurrect some secret treasures of her late grandfather’s writing, most particularly a memoir that could rock the security of Lady Elizabeth’s world and that of her family. You see, her grandfather was none other than the famous William Shakespeare. And the memoir was his last words to the world he had once regaled with dramatic plays and sentimental sonnets. Who was this man that time no longer honored? Would the current political and cultural circles understand and accept what secrets this long-dead playwright might reveal in his final words and testament? When her husband dictates that the manuscript must be destroyed, Lady Elizabeth must come up with a creative way to hide her grandfather’s secrets from the world, at least for her time and perhaps well into the future.
William Gray’s novel, Love’s Labour’s Won: The Secret Life of William Shakespeare, is, to put it simply, brilliant. The author has resurrected the voice of a centuries-old literary giant and opened up new avenues of possibilities. There are so many things we don’t know about Shakespeare. But, using what we do know, William presented some very plausible possibilities. The story begins and ends with Lady Elizabeth’s memories of her grandfather and the precious manuscript that is the playwright’s secret memoir. She knows what the memoir contains, but she reads it again anyway. The middle part is the memoir, written presumably in Shakespeare’s recognizable script. It begins with his birth, his family, and the events that led to his passion for writing and particularly for the theater. Some of the playwright’s profound words are used to develop the plot. The writing is so believable, the reader is bound to think this might actually be an undiscovered gem written by the Bard himself. As I said, this is brilliant. And what’s the secret that is so dangerous? Read it and find out.