I never thought this would happen to me, but while I was reading this book, I actually had a sense of nostalgia for Harold Bloom.
A woman I work with forced this book on me with the guarantee that I would adore it. I later found out that she "hates music like the Velvet Underground." It's always people like that who are forcing book recommendations. Not that there are "people like that" who hate the Velvet Underground. I have a lot of faith that she is an isolated case.
This book pretty much hit on every single thing I ever hate about books. I know other people have said the writing was engaging, but I have to disagree. One sentence was just a list of the types of businesses that existed in London in the late 16th century. The businesses were grouped together in a way that let the author use some semi-colons, and it seemed pretty clear to me that the whole purpose of the sentence was so that he could show he knew how to use semi-colons. If that is not the case, and the editors had to put those semi-colons in, well . . . god help us all.
I think this book should be classified as historical fiction because every sentence is about how "maybe this happened" or "if . . . then Shakespeare could have thought." There is a whole chapter devoted to speculating about whether Shakespeare had a happy marriage based on the marriages in his plays. !!!! That makes me so mad!!
Here's what I would read: a book that compiles the documentary history related to Shakespeare and has a short explanation of what the document is. I would be fine with that. Speculation is so infuriating.
I was dating this guy recently, and he only used the word "film" for "movie," which drives me crazy. And then one day, he asked me if I wanted to go have a "romp in the sack," so I decided we should not go out anymore. This is the book version of the phrase "romp in the sack."
I am judging the soul of both this book and anyone who is passionate about it. As to people who feel pretty neutral about it, you are okay, I will just assume the History of Elizabethan England class you took in college was only a survey.