The Other Shakespeare by Lea Rachel
Title: The Other Shakespeare
Author: Lea Rachel
Publisher: Writer's Design Press
Publication Date: 2015 (first published November 12, 2014)
Number of Pages: 197
How I Got It: Direct from publisher
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.
I love books like this, alternate histories that position women into the story. Author Lea Rachel is able to weave Virginia Woolf's struggle with being taken seriously as a female writer into her character, Judith. She points out the strict gender roles restricting women from most pursuits outside the home as well as the scoffing at of "unnecessary" skills, such as reading. As a strong, independent woman myself, I always wonder how I would have survived such stagnant conformity. It is easy to empathize with Judith and when a traveling play mesmerizes Judith, readers will feel their hearts ache as she yearns to be one of the players. A perfect combination of Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, and example of how society's gender roles have thwarted all but the greatest and most stubborn minds, Lea Rachel's "The Other Shakespeare" is a must-read for any historical and women's fiction lover.
** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **