Shakespeare’s Bastard
Richard B. Wright


Whew, another good read, finally. It’s a time piece, meaning a narrative set in England of the 16th and early 17th century England. However, do not let that dissuade you from reading it for the writing is not ‘old English,’ but instead English which is very understandable even for one who is not as well read as he likes to think he is.

The Story

The story is about a young woman of questionable morals or perhaps questionable common sense. In fact, a number of times, I had the feeling I was bordering on “50 Shades of Grey” territory…the story never really goes that far, whew again! In any case, our leading lady, a young woman of questionable scruples but of definitive attitude and libido, takes the reader on a narrative journey of self-criticism, cultural display and social exposition. At this juncture of the story, as a very young teen, our narrator describes her mother’s early life where she ‘strayed from the narrow path of morality, virtue and modesty,’ the Puritanical lifestyle of the majority of the English citizenry of the era and of her aunt with whom she has been living. When the village gossip becomes intolerable with the villagers labeling the narrator’s mother a whore and a recluse, the prudish, narrow minded aunt ships the teen off to relatives living in Elizabethan London. The adventures begin.


The London times section of the book is intriguing and entertaining with captivating misadventures which have you wondering if the young rural raised girl will survive the excitement, surprises and wickedness of the biggest city in England. She does and she doesn’t.

She does

Our heroine narrates the story of her mother, Mam, with magnetic appeal. She writes how her mother survived London, economically and socially, befriending few by intent and surviving with surprising agility. She was employed, earned money and was able to navigate the teeming streets of sin and debauchery. Sin city of the Shakespearean era.


She doesn’t

However, her energetic and dynamic libido open her door and her legs to the amorous advances of the young playwright, Will Shakespeare, also struggling to survive the tumultuous currents of the vibrant metropolis. The two youngsters connect on many levels, one of which results in the conception of our bastard narrator, our central character of the narration.


I like the book

Though I am only mid-way through, I find the book very entertaining. The characters, well developed, well described are easy to like, especially our heroine, Aerline (Linny). I even warmed to the mother with her questionable principles and virtue. In today’s society, there’d be less judgement and labeling of the mother leading a promiscuous life but she lives in Cromwellian England, a time when Puritanism dampened the spirits and lifestyle of every person living in there. Today, Linny would be at the forefront of socially active young women, authoring a Facebook page, a blog site and having a Twitter account. I like her; I like her daughter; I like the book; I like the story…thus far.

I finished the book…with much pleasure

Our narrator, Aerline recounts her story entertainingly. She works in London for some time where she meets some unsavoury characters, one in particular, who she believes can lead her to finding and meeting her biological father, William Shakespeare. As her story unwinds, the reader feels like they are sitting with Aerline and hearing her describe her tale in person. It makes the reading warmer and more attractive for it creates a personal atmosphere in which you have sympathy and empathy for Aerline.

I was actually cheering for her in her search but the closer she got to meeting her father, the greater the suspense became: would he acknowledge Aerline; would he gift her with some sort of parental legacy; would he financially assist her? Or would Will just ignore her, rejecting the authenticity of her legitimacy? I feared for her as she pursued her quest.

She eventually meets her father.

And the book closes with Aerline aging, and dying. The ending of her life ends the book and many reader will be saddened with Aerline’s end, the books end and the end of the story.

A sad ending, yet paradoxically very acceptable and warm.


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