The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees (April 2011, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, ISBN: 0747597346)
Notes: The following review is written by Amanda Gillies who reviews crime fiction on my Euro Crime website. You can read her crime reviews here and her YA reviews here.
Review: Based upon Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night and set mostly in the south of England in the 1600s, The Fool's Girl is a delightfully romantic tale about magic and mystery, first love, separation and being reunited. With a real sense of 'true love conquers all', it brings a warm feeling to your heart as you read the story of young Violetta and her faithful friend Feste. They are disguised as players and in London to find a valuable holy relic that has been stolen from their country, Illyria. Violetta has vowed to return the relic to its home and with it to gain her rightful place as duchess, alongside her truelove Stephano, who is rightfully duke. They have been sworn to each other since childhood but tragedy, war and imprisonment have so far kept them apart.
Remarkably, Violetta and Feste meet William Shakespeare while he is still Will - an up and coming, but still very ordinary playwright from Stratford. He helps them in their quest to find the relic and their adventures bring them face to face with death on more than one occasion. Will's final role in the whole affair is to produce it all as a play and, given the importance of the people in the audience for its first viewing, one wonders if this is supposed to be Will's lucky break.
So very little is known about the life of William Shakespeare. This wonderful tale, that suggests the plot for Twelfth Night could be more than just a story, is magical. Will is an ordinary, albeit gifted, man with a wife and children and to see him in this somewhat romantic setting - captivated by Violetta's story and so keen to help her, is extremely refreshing.
Very highly recommended.