Monday, October 29, 2007

My Father Had A Daughter

I finished my dollar-store-bought copy of "My Father Had A Daughter" by Grace Tiffany this past Sunday, and I must say I was surprised to discover that I'd spent over half the day immersed in this well written novel. Though I am not fond of the cliche, it really was a 'page turner' that had me stuck in one position reading for so long I developed a crick in my neck.
The subtitle of the book is "Judith Shakespeares Tale" and that gave me all I need to know to snag my copy and start reading. As a former theater major with a deep respect and adoration of all Shakespeare's work, I was compelled to read this fictional account of Will and his brilliant daughter Judith, twin of Hamnet.
Grace Tiffany, whose day job is working as an English Lit professor at Western Michigan University, has taught Shakespeare at Notre Dame, and it shows as she gets the tone and mileau of the 16th century just right, while also creating believable, fascinating characters and a wonderful plot that never lags.
We're treated to glowing descriptions of the Globe Theater, life in Stratford-on-Avon where Will kept his wife, three children and brother, and of London in the time of the evil Oliver Cromwell and King James. Judith is a delicious protagonist, whose need for her fathers attention leads her to pretending to be a boy in his first production of Twelfth Night. We meet the clown Kempe, and other famed actors of the time, and the descriptions of the crowds and the food and the sights/smells/sounds of the times are so vivid, you feel as if you are there.
The only flaw in the novel, and it isn't really a flaw per se, is that I wanted more at the end. I wanted to know how Judith fared in her later years, and why Shakespeare has no known living descendants (at least that is what I was taught in college) if his daughters both gave birth to live children.
Anyway, I suggest those who enjoy excellent storytelling, theater, history and a bit of romance pick up this gem of a book and dive in immediately. I doubt you will be disappointed.

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