Fools and Mortals

Fools and Mortals

Book - 2017
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Bestselling author Bernard Cornwell takes us into the heart of the Elizabethan era, long one of his favourite periods of British history. Young Richard Shakespeare, an actor struggling to make his way in a company dominated by his estranged older brother William. As the growth of theatre blooms, their rivalry - and that of the playhouses, playwrights and actors vying for acclaim and glory - propels a high-stakes story of conflict and betrayal.
Publisher: London : HarperCollinsPublishers, ©2017.
ISBN: 9780007504114
9780007504152
Characteristics: 369 pages :,illustrations, map ;,25 cm.

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Emma1917
Feb 22, 2019

I really enjoyed this. I appreciated the detail—it made you feel like you were there—and I enjoyed the characters and the problems they faced. For me, it was an adventure, from beginning to end.

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zipread
Dec 22, 2018

It’s a shame that other readers of this book have found it boring. But as a reader of, what I think is virtually everything Cornwell has written, I’m afraid I’ve got to agree with their verdict. Previously, Cornwell’s swashbuckling novels had been jam packed with adventure: think Sharp in that series of adventures set in the Napoleonic wars; think of his novels set in England of the seventh century; think of Agincourt; my favourite Cornwell. Historical fiction one and all. And while Fools too is historical fiction set in Elizabethan England, this novel represents a 180 degree from what he usually writes about. And while Cornwell does a good job liming his protagonist, better than most of his previous novels, this probably will not be the novel that sinks its terrier fangs into you without relenting till the very last word.
Nope.
As for me, it too hope and patience till I got to the point of no return with Fools and Mortals; to where I had to keep reading.
Not well received and disappointing. This must be Cornwell’s attempt at something else. Maybe he’s gotten tired of buckling swash.
Too bad.

j
jerry63x
Dec 04, 2018

Why is it no surprise that Cornwell's usual readers, addicts of action and violence, would be so bored by this? In places this is really good at fleshing out the historical context of Shakespeare's plays even suggesting why they're so good. On the other hand so much of this is a paraphrase of the plays being performed (chiefly A Midsummer's Night Dream) and even if it's necessary because Cornwell can't take it for granted his readers are familiar with Shakespeare's plays, it's not compelling fiction.

b
Brontina66
May 21, 2018

I really enjoyed reading this novel. It is well researched and offers a very interesting and plausible description of what happened in Elizabethan playhouses before, during, and after a rehearsal. The story is set in 1595, in London. Shakespeare and his company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, are getting ready to perform" A Midsummer Night's Dream" for the wedding of the Chamberlain's granddaughter. Beside this comedy, the Bard is also writing a new play, the immortal "Romeo and Juliet." The company rehearses in the Hunsdon Mansion and all seems to go well, until the manuscripts of the two works disappear and it will be Richard Shakespeare's task to retrieve them, if he wants to gain the esteem of his more famous brother. This is the main plot, made even more interesting by the different characters (some real some invented): the actors, from Will Kemp to Richard Burbage; the aristocracy; the Pursuivants (Puritan fanatics and sworn enemies of the theatre); the servants, the innkeepers, the bargemen whose simple everyday life is described with humor and details. Beside the historical research, I also particularly liked that Cornwell doesn't even for a second hint to the possibility that someone other than Shakespeare wrote his plays. He doesn't waste his and our time on those ridiculous theories. I read this novel in a couple of days because, once I started, I could not put it down and I strongly recommend it, whether you are interested in Elizabethan drama or not.

m
Memawrayne
Mar 04, 2018

My first book by this author. What I enjoyed most was feeling like I was backstage with the actors in London during Shakespeare's time. Learning about early theater was fascinating. Support by the queen and disgust from the Puritans.

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mnadow
Mar 02, 2018

I am a big Cornwell fan and was highly anticipating this release, sadly it was a disappointment. A departure from his action series of novels, but I could have lived with that with a good plot and character development. This had neither. That being said, if you are a Shakespeare fan you may enjoy this a lot. There is a lot of line by line quote from plays written by Shakespeare, if I wanted that, I would have just reread Romeo & Juliet, or one of the other plays he quoted extensively, I found it boring and needless. There was potential, but it fell short.

ser_library Feb 16, 2018

wonderful period detail--felt as if i were there

u
USAF1969
Jan 25, 2018

I too am a big Bernard Cornwell fan. FOOLS AND MORTALS is certainly different from his other books of historical fiction which often focus on wars in days gone by long ago. But only different in that it focuses on the early days of the development of static theaters and the rise of the great playwrights - we are talking 1595 as the setting for this story. It does not have the level of action of his war-related historical novels, but it does have an element of intrigue, some violence, religious persecution, class distinctions, and the harsh realities of being a actor in that era. While the central story is based in the theater of William Shakespeare as seen through the eyes of his brother Richard, an actor, the larger story is about the growth of a new industry focusing on the people coming to a static place (theater) to see a play rather than the older traditions of taking plays out to the people. If you like the theater scene and plays you will love this. If you are not much into those things, just be prepared once in awhile to skim through some the theater and plays descriptive material - still a great read either way.

k
kajeh
Jan 08, 2018

This is a wonderful book if you are into Shakespeare, as I am. It makes you feel you are really there behind stage, on stage, and in the streets of Shakespeare's London. This is not an action adventure like most of Cornwell's other books, which I suppose explains the disappointment of some of the other reviewers, but to my mind it is one of Cornwell's best.

4
4625mayfair
Nov 30, 2017

Cornwell is one of my favourite writers and I've read and enjoyed almost all of his books. However, I had a hard time getting into this book and gave up after 100 pages. I guess I'm not really into plays and the theatre life. I expect people who are, though, might enjoy the story.

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