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Nothing Like the Sun has made me a Burgess fan, since I was never going to read A Clockwork Orange ever since I read the fist two pages back in my late teens and got thoroughly turned off. This story purports to be a biography of Shakespeare and introduces him to us from his late teens, when he was presumably occupied chasing women and bedding every one of those who accepted his advances. Until he got caught into marriage by the brothers of one Anne Hathaway, one of the women which he managed to impregnate, though not at all his first or last choice as a wife. The story follows his career path from his first scratchings until his demise from syphilis, with his first sonnets devoted to what was reportedly one of the greatest loves of his life, a young teenage lord of great beauty, here presented as being Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. His second great love is a Dark Lady, also mentioned in his sonnets, who was probably from Indian descent from the details we glean in this highly fictionalized story. Burgess present to us a lusty William Shakespeare who seems entirely convincing considering the countless bawdy references in his plays, but also a very realistic portrait of a man of genius who is unsure of himself and his position in the world, blending the sublime and the ordinariness of life. Among my favourite books this year.
Wonderful narration by Sean Barrett. I'm very glad I didn't let the utterly confusing beginning of the novel discourage me from continuing on. I can be very slow on the uptake sometimes, so among other things, it took me some time to catch on to the fact that "WS" was our main man. I've got two more Burgesses waiting in the wings, one being the Booker shortlisted Earthly Powers, which comes highly recommended. I just may have to make room for more Burgess this year.
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