Review: Kissing Shakespeare

Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

Miranda has Shakespeare in her blood: she hopes one day to become a Shakespearean actor like her famous parents. At least, she does until her disastrous performance in her school’s staging of The Taming of the Shrew. Humiliated, Miranda skips the opening-night party. All she wants to do is hide.

Fellow cast member, Stephen Langford, has other plans for Miranda. When he steps out of the backstage shadows and asks if she’d like to meet Shakespeare, Miranda thinks he’s a total nutcase. But before she can object, Stephen whisks her back to 16th century England—the world Stephen’s really from. He wants Miranda to use her acting talents and modern-day charms on the young Will Shakespeare. Without her help, Stephen claims, the world will lost its greatest playwright.

Miranda isn’t convinced she’s the girl for the job. Why would Shakespeare care about her? And just who is this infuriating time traveler, Stephen Langford? Reluctantly, she agrees to help, knowing that it’s her only chance of getting back to the present and her “real” life. What Miranda doesn’t bargain for is finding true love . . . with no acting required.

(Description from Goodreads)

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I love Shakespeare. In fact, I’m quite obsessed with him and his works. It wasn’t until the fall of my junior year of college that I started to feel that way, but ever since then, I have loved the man and his writings. When this book came up on my Goodreads account one day, I knew I just HAD to read it and review it when it was out. I finally got around to reading it (my summer job just ended and my fall semester grad classes just began) and I was pleasantly surprised, though it fell slightly short of what I was expecting.

Once again, I find myself drawn to the whole time travel bit; always have been though. When I first read the description I immediately thought about how awesome it would be if we could travel back in time and meet Shakespeare BEFORE he was famous (and while he was famous, of course.) However, I was slightly disappointed that Shakespeare wasn’t featured as much as I had expected in this book. Yes, he was in it quite often, but not in the way that I would have truly liked. But I must say, the author did a wonderful job at portraying young Shakespeare to be the kind of guy who would write the plays and sonnets that he wrote. He was just…sweet, yet had that seductive undertone to him. Oh, Shakespeare.

Speaking of the characters in this book, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about them, especially the main characters, Miranda/Olivia and Stephen. Miranda begins the book as a young actor who feels she cannot live up to her parents and their spectacular acting skills. Once whisked away to the 16th century with Stephen though, she teeters on the edge of being an independent girl and a girl who does whatever she is told to do. Stephen on the other hand is portrayed as being this guy who is firm, seductive, and quarrelsome, yet deep down…you know he truly has a caring heart (especially for Miranda.) The interactions between the two characters gave me such a mix of feelings; one minute I was like, “aww, they just need to go ahead and be together” and then the next I would be like, “okay, we get it already. Can you two just stop the bickering already?” Their interactions were repeated quite a bit, especially in the whole flirting and getting mad with one another bit; they also had quite a few times when they constantly repeated how they needed to talk in private. Fine. We get it. You can’t talk out loud about certain things. Move on!

Now, I must say that I really enjoyed the idea of the book. The whole reason Miranda is dragged to the 16th century is so that they (Stephen and Miranda) can make sure that Shakespeare follows the path he was meant to follow. Instead of becoming the famous and most talked about author, Shakespeare’s path was starting to wander down the road of becoming a Jesuit priest, which could have led to death for him and his writings to become nonexistent. In a way, you have to suspend your logical thoughts on the matter, as you may ask yourself the same question I did (and as Miranda did as well) and that was, “But Shakespeare was in the past…it has already happened. Why would it change if we’re in the present?” Good question. Sadly, it’s one that never really is answered. Again, you just have to go with it and not think with such logic.

I will say that I enjoyed the historical aspect of the book. The author purposefully sets this book during the years that are considered Shakespeare’s “The Lost Years” in order to make this book make sense. At the very end of the book, the author includes a note that discusses the research she conducted in order to make an accurate representation for what may have happened during those years for Shakespeare. It was rather interesting to read and it made the book make a lot more sense (perhaps it should be read BEFORE reading the actual book?)

I felt bad for pretty much ALL of the characters by the end of the book. Not one of them really had that happy of an ending…or maybe I just wasn’t happy for their endings. Sorry if that ends up being a spoiler alert for anyone, but I suppose it really just depends on the preference of the reader on how to interpret the ending. It was a fitting ending, but it was missing that happy feeling to it.

Once I was able to sit down and just read without distractions and disruptions, this book really went by pretty fast. Because fall semester has begun, I’m focusing my time on grad school assignments, so reading for fun has once again taken a backseat. However, I’m making sure I still spend some time every day reading for fun; this book definitely falls into the quick, yet fun YA read category.

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