Saturday, May 28, 2016
Shakespeare's Shrine: The Bard's Birthplace and the Invention of Stratford-Upon-Avon
Rating: 3 Stars
Oh you funny Victorian tourists.
I feel like I should have liked this one better than I did. I think perhaps the reason is, is that the writing was kind of dull at times. I am not particularly interested in Victorian England, and that is really when Stratford became Stratford. So, there's that.
The book, however, does a fine job of tracing the history of the home. The author introduces us to the house in Victorian times, traces the ownership and the task of authenticating it, as well as restoration and the habits f tourists writing their names on the walls. (Yeesh!) It just was not done in a very engaging way to me, and again this could go back to the fact that the place came to be what it was during the Victorian era and nothing makes that interesting to me, unfortunately not even Shakespeare.
I appreciated the fact that there were numerous photographs, carvings, etc. It would have been nice to see these in color though, and not printed directly on the page with the text so they remained in black and white. Or, black and cream, as the pages were not white. The author also had quite an exhaustive list of notes and bibliography that runs some 40 pages. The research is there and it shows, but still it was kind of a struggle to finish this one. That bummed me out, given my Shakespeare obsession. I wanted to like this book a lot better but in the end it was just much more dry than I care for. I don't mean it was overly academic, because I do enjoy my academic texts as much as the next nerd, I really just think it is because the Victorians bore me to tears.
So, give it a go. There's tons of history and information about how that little house in Stratford-upon-Avon became what it is today. Perhaps you will enjoy it more than I did.