Review: The Other Shakespeare

Title: The Other Shakespeare
Author: Lea Rachel
Publisher: The Writer's Design Press
Published: November 12, 2014
Paperback Arc, 197 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0-9908616-0-7
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: The Cadence Group 

Goodreads Summary:
What if Shakespeare had been born a woman? What would have happened to her? And, what would she have accomplished?

Virginia Woolf first posed these questions in her acclaimed novel A Room of One’s Own…and now maverick author Lea Rachel steps up to tell the rest of the story.

The Other Shakespeare carries readers back to the sixteenth century to follow Judith Shakespeare, the older sister of William, as she tries to make a name for herself in a male-dominated society that consistently denies women their independence. Born with as much talent, creativity, and drive as her younger brother, she is stifled by the world around her and ultimately resorts to extreme measures to get accepted and have her talent recognized.

Judith’s story is rich with history, conflict, and drama and is sure to appeal to fans of Virginia Woolf, William Shakespeare, and character-driven fiction.

My Thoughts:
Try to imagine yourself a woman in the sixteenth century. Yeah . . . it sucks. Now try to imagine yourself a woman with the talent of William Shakespeare but bound by the conventions of the time. It sucks even worse. The Other Shakespeare by Lea Rachel is a tragedy about a fictionalized sister of The Bard--Judith Shakespeare. A woman that has talent oozing out of her fingertips, but unable to find a place in the world.

Judith longs for a life other than what she's been dealt. She's born with a natural curiosity to learn and for storytelling. However most women in the sixteenth century weren't educated. Women were treated as property and didn't have many rights. Quite a contrast from today. Judith can't quiet the creative fire burning within herself. And because of it, she has a difficult life.  A life full of heartbreak, disappointment, and sorrow.  

Although Judith Shakespeare is fictional, I'm sure many women of the sixteenth century have a similar tale. I would not trade lives with this character for the world, but I did enjoy getting to 'know' her. Lea Rachel has written a great book inspired by A Room of One's Own. She really brings home the difficulty of being a woman born ahead of her time.

"Mrs. Mountjoy listened as her young maidservant talked on and on. She loved Judith, in a way, and wanted to help her, if she could, but she knew enough of the world to know that Judith's plays would never make it onto the stage. It didn't matter if she had any talent, that wasn't' the point. She was a woman, and a woman would never be allowed to take over a man's work. You had to work within the role God gave you, not try to overcome it."

*This book contains some scenes that might be difficult for some readers. 
**Quote may be changed in final book. 

My Rating:
3.5 but I'll round it up to a 4