Self-proclaimed bibliophile, culture nut and nerdfighter. English lit. and linguistics geek. Future career in publishing.
Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.
A well-written, emotional play about Elizabeth I wanting to be entertained (read: distracted) by Shakespeare's acting troupe on the eve of the Earl of Essex's beheading.
I read it because I'm working at Bard this summer and it's one of the plays that we're putting on. I think it has a lovely contrast between the character Ned, who is the leading lady actor in Shakespeare's plays and therefore knows how to act more feminine, and Queen Elizabeth I, who is a monarch and needs to take on the roles of a king and therefore acts more masculine. The two try to teach each other to feel more in line with their sexes as they face some life-changing events.
It's a nice look into the feelings behind Elizabeth I's choices, especially since the Earl of Essex was considered one of her favourites and a potential suitor (if not an actual lover). But she has one backbone considering she executes him for treason.
The only thing I didn't like is the presumption that Queen Elizabeth I and the Earl of Essex really did do the boom-diggity as that is not fact, nor that Shakespeare was super in love with Southampton as that hasn't be proven either. I guess if you're taking the lives of people and making them into fictional versions, then I guess you're allowed artistic licence to do that. Either way, it`s canon in Findley's head, but it's not in mine.