Swan Town: The Secret Journal of Susanna Shakespeare

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9780060581275: Swan Town: The Secret Journal of Susanna Shakespeare

The witty and engaging diary of Susanna Shakespeare, the young daughter of William Shakespeare, from a first–time author.

Thirteen–year–old Susanna Shakespeare longs for something exciting to happen in her boring village of Stratford, England. Her father, Will, is always off in London, busily working on new plays, and Susanna yearns to be a part of that world. When Susanna's uncle gets himself in trouble with the Master of Revels, and Susanna is whisked off to London to help, the stage is set for adventure...and romance.

Told in a diary format with Susanna's humorous, witty perspective of late–sixteenth–century Elizabethan England, this extensively researched debut novel offers an unconventional glimpse into the life of the famed Bard's family.

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About the Author:

Michael J. Ortiz teaches, writes, hunts, cooks, and tends an herb garden in Maryland with his wife and their four children. He has degrees from Saint Anselm College and Georgetown University. He believes all attempts to deny Shakespeare authorship of his plays and poems are beef-witted slanders of historical proportions. Swan Town is his first novel.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 6-10–Written as the diary of Shakespeares eldest child, this story gives a human face to the Elizabethan genius who changed the course of theatrical history. Rich with details about 16th-century home life in Stratford and theatrical conditions in London, the novel relates the story both of Susannas feisty determination to be more than a common country maid and of the development of her relationship with Dr. John Hall, the man she eventually marries. Susannas actual epitaph, which states that she was witty above her sexe, forms the basis of this fictional account. Bored with her simple life, Susanna yearns for adventure and dreams of seeing The Parrots King, a play that she has written, performed at her fathers theatre. While on a visit to London, she persuades the Globes clown to allow her and her timid sister, Judith, to present her play as a prologue to her fathers premiere of Hamlet. This puts her in great danger when the crowd turns on her plays antimonarchial sentiments. Standard biographical facts are carefully woven into Susannas entries, dating from March 2, 1597 to January 1, 1598, and the text is filled with references from Shakespeares plays. However, this journal focuses on the personal side of the Bards life. A good deal of emphasis is placed on the possibility that Shakespeare and his family were Roman Catholics. This circumstance adds tension, intrigue, and a political dimension to the story. The books well-written prose will serve as an excellent introduction to Shakespeare, with its historical details providing a good background of Elizabethan society. Its real strength, however, is that of Susannas forceful character, enabling readers to make a personal connection with a classic writer.–Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
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