Hi Savvy Readers!
This week’s Featured Read is Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell. If you’ve never read anything by Mr. Cornwell before, you’re in luck, because that means you get to read him for the first time!
He’s that good. As an avid Philippa Gregory fan, I can honestly say no one does historical fiction quite like him. Philippa Gregory is addictive but Bernard Cornwell is so immersive and spot on, there’s nothing that pulls you out of the era!
Fools and Mortals is set in London in the Elizabethan era at the height of theatre and the Puritan drive to destroy theatre and cleanse England of its bawdiness. The story follows Shakespeare’s younger brother Richard. But the two really do not get along – who doesn’t love a good sibling drama?
While William Shakespeare is beloved and sought after for his plays, Richard is stuck penniless, playing the small roles of women. The plot is centered around the production and performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream and the writing of Romeo and Juliet. William rises to fame while Richard longs to play a prominent role where he gets to be a man and maybe earn a few more coppers so he doesn’t have to resort to thievery anymore.
I really enjoyed reading Richard’s character. He’s the kind that will observe and listen and he chooses his words carefully. He’s aware of what goes on around him and you respect him for it. But this book is more than sibling rivalry, it has intrigue, secrets, and at its core, is a love story when Richard meets the young Sylvia (I root for them), but it’s also an ode to the era and theatre itself. Bernard Cornwell does his research exceptionally well, and I encourage you all to read this fun, feel-good romp of a read!
Have you read any Bernard Cornwell before? What’s your favourite historical fiction?