Entering the world of Elizabethan England and the vast arena of the theater, Grace Tiffany turns a great writer into a very human being who struggles to achieve his goals and live out his dreams. Meanwhile, his wife and children live a far different life in the country. The story is told with great insight that only a scholar of Shakespeare and a teacher could present. There is much tenderness in this story and so much about the dramatists and actors of the day that is yet true of our time as well.
The title of this book comes from a line by Viola in Shakespeare's play "Twelfth Night", a character which may have been based upon Judith Shakespeare, William Shakespeare's younger daughter, whose twin, Hamnet, died young. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It may be because I have been a fan of William Shakespeare since I was a teenager--irregardless of whether or not someone named Shakespeare actually wrote all of his plays and sonnets,etc., or whether it was some anonymous royal-- or it may be that this story reminds me a little bit of "Shakespeare in Love" combined with "Stage Beauty". I think Grace Tiffany took what few historical facts she could unearth about William Shakespeare's younger daughter, added some speculation of her own, and created a wonderful what-if story. What if Judith Shakespeare mourned the death of her twin brother so much, and wanted to be an actor in her father's plays so much, that she threw caution to the wind and ran away to London to be a boy actor? This story is about fathers and daughters, and husbands and wives. It is about the theatre during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I of England, a time when women were not allowed on the stage and young boys dressed as girls (drag). This book is about the roles of women and men, during that time. It has romance, as well as humour. I enjoyed "My Father Had a Daughter", and I think you will, too.
Journal entry 3 by writetothebone from Louisville, Kentucky USA on Monday, June 20, 2005
Backcover copy: William Shakespeare was father to three children: Susanna, his oldest, and twins Judith and hamnet. This is Judith's tale . . ."
For anyone who enjoys Shakespeare, this novel will bring to life Renaissance English in the late1500's. Little is known about Shakespeare's personal life, but author Grace Tiffany has taken what is known and woven a story filled with family strife, romance, suspense and heart-break. Tiffany mastered the feel of the dilect of Middle English without the difficulty of interpretation for the reader of the 21st century. Case in point:
"Do you think I could send a plague on Susanna?" I asked.
"No." Hamnet whispered fearfully. "I mean, do not speak of it."
"I wouldn't," I said. "We might catch it."
"But what of our father? How can we make him leave the city?"
"I will think on it," I said.
The only complaint I have about this book is its anticlimax. After Judith's first visit to London, the story seems to slow down, though it is still entertaining. Overall, I recommended it.
William Shakespear had three children. This is the story of his daughter Judith. She is everything that her father may have attributed to one of the characters in his fmaous plays --- strong, willful, thoughtful, a woman at a time when it was most inconvenient.
Wonderful story as told by William Shakespeare's daughter.
For all that the world knows of William Shakespeare and his plays, very little is typically told about his family. This novel puts together a story about what life might have been like for Judith Shakespeare, his youngest daughter. Little is really known about Judith Shakespeare beyond the fact that her twin brother Hamnet died when they were eleven, that she married when she was "older" (around 31) and that her husband was a few years younger than her. Grace Tiffany paints Judith as head-strong, independent, and grieving for her twin. From this, she pieces together an elaborate adventure that takes Judith out of Stratford and throws her into the bustling city of London. The Judith in this story leads a life much like one of Shakespeare's plays: death, betrayals, secrets, hidden identities, adventure, etc. Whether or not she actually lived this type of life or not is another story, but Grace Tiffany makes it seem reasonable enough and demonstrates how some of the things that happened to Judith and their family would become inspiration for Shakespeare's plays. This book wasn't quite what I expected to read going in (I thought the majority of it would concentrate on Judith's younger years during her London adventure, but that was only the first half), but it was still an entertaining read.
A gem of a novel-wise and funny, romantic and heartbreaking...a vivid, human, intimate portrait of Shakespeare-husband, father, consumate man of the theatre-as seen throught the eyes of a bold, spirited daughter who grasps the magic and mystery of her father's craft, the contradictoriness of his complex psyche, and the terrible pain of his troubled soul.-Herman Gollob, author of Me and Shakespeare: Adventures with the Bard. A wonderful book from a smoke-free home.