Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review -- Elizabeth the First Wife

Elizabeth the First Wife
Elizabeth the First Wife by Lian Dolan
My enjoyment rating: 3 of 5 stars (should have been 4!)
Hangover rating: 1
Source: Public library
Genre: Fiction, "Chick-Lit"
Objectionable material: One sexual reference -- really tame. 

One day Elizabeth Lancaster is teaching her college level Intro to Shakespeare class – the next, she’s off to Ashland Oregon, as a consultant for a newly imagined production of the Bard’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, staring none other than her ex husband, FX Fahey (think Hugh Jackman) and directed by superstar Taz Buchanan (think Baz Luhrmann). Her summer is filled with all things Shakespeare – but the drama is not confined to the stage – the arrival of her family sets in motion a comedy of errors and love interests that the Bard would truly appreciate.

This was SO my book: I loved the theatrical setting; I loved ALL the references to Shakespeare; I loved the comparisons between Shakespeare’s characters and their real life counterparts (Henry V & Katherine = Duke & Duchess of Cambridge); I loved that she had Team Romeo vs. Team Hamlet vs. Team Twilight (Edward doesn’t stand a chance!); it was witty, it was smart, it was clever – something I would never attribute to “chick lit.”

But here is the rub:

I had 3 serious issues that I just couldn’t get past:
 
• During the casting of the production it is mentioned that the actors were cast by the OSF, not the director, Taz Buchanan – no way would that happen!! At least not in my theatre world.
 
• When referencing Elizabeth’s father winning the Nobel Prize, he is said to be attending on the arm of “Princess Sophia.” There is NO Princess Sophia of Sweden. (Princess Victoria and Princess Madeleine).
 
• But this is the kicker – she has Elizabeth I “executing her sister, Mary Queen of Scots.” NOOOOOOOOO!!! Mary Queen of Scots was NOT HER SISTER!! She was her cousin (and a 2nd or 3rd at that…I think). Mary I was her sister! How does this slip by an editor? Even I, lowly public school educated, state undergraduate degree awarded human, knows that they weren’t sisters.

So…suffice it to say…the book I was ready to award 4 stars, dropped to a 3.

Totally took the shine off my reading experience.

But yes…overall, it was still fun.