Interred with Their Bones

( 51 )

Overview

“A feverishly paced action adventure” (The New York Times) about a long-lost Shakespeare work and a killer who reenacts the Bard’s most bloody murders

Jennifer Lee Carrell’s highly acclaimed debut novel is a brilliant, breathlessly paced literary adventure. The action begins on the eve of the Globe’s production of Hamlet when Shakespeare scholar and theater director Kate Stanley’s eccentric mentor Rosalind Howard gives her a mysterious box, claiming to have made a groundbreaking...

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Interred with Their Bones

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Overview

“A feverishly paced action adventure” (The New York Times) about a long-lost Shakespeare work and a killer who reenacts the Bard’s most bloody murders

Jennifer Lee Carrell’s highly acclaimed debut novel is a brilliant, breathlessly paced literary adventure. The action begins on the eve of the Globe’s production of Hamlet when Shakespeare scholar and theater director Kate Stanley’s eccentric mentor Rosalind Howard gives her a mysterious box, claiming to have made a groundbreaking discovery. Before she can reveal it to Kate, the Globe is burned to the ground and Roz is found dead…murdered precisely in the manner of Hamlet’s father.

Inside the box Kate finds the first piece in a Shakespearean puzzle, setting her on a deadly, highstakes treasure hunt. From London to Harvard to the American West, Kate races to evade a killer and solve a tantalizing string of clues hidden in the words of Shakespeare, which may unlock one of history’s greatest secrets.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Jennifer Lee Carrell's debut novel straps readers into an adrenaline-drenched international chase in search of murderers and long-lost Shakespearean manuscripts. At the vortex of the whirlwind hunt is Elizabethan literature specialist Kate Stanley, an unlikely, if likeable heroine if there ever was one. In hardcover, this fast-paced action mystery thriller won reader plaudits and critics raves; in paperback, we anticipate long sustained encores. A fun, edge-of-your-seat read.
Publishers Weekly

It's not McNenny's fault that Carrell's thriller, hinging on the burning of the Globe Theater in 1613, turns out to be much ado about nothing. McNenny reads at a heart-thumping pace, which is perfect for Kate Stanley, a theater director and former scholar, who is both chasing the past and being pursued by killers in the present. McNenny's performance gives Kate the right combination of brainy sleuthing and brainless commitment to a dangerous investigation. She does not fare as well with the other characters, especially the men. In particular, a London inspector in charge of the murder case of Kate's Harvard mentor sounds Indian or Pakistani, even though he is from the Caribbean. Listeners will ignore the peccadilloes as they are caught up in Kate's breathless trips from London to Cambridge and even the West Coast. For those interested in this popular genre of Shakespeare revised and revisited, the catchy plot and McNenny's exuberant performance are both gripping and vastly entertaining. Simultaneous release with the Dutton hardcover (Reviews, July 16). (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
USA Today
[A] smart...notable debut literary thriller.
Newsweek
This debut mystery kicks off with quite a bang...the author never lets her pace sag as the story's roots reach back to Shakepeare's time. High-class fun.
Library Journal

At first, this debut novel seems to be a moderately paced historical "what if," but it rapidly turns into a transcontinental "whodunit." The murder of a Shakespearean scholar at a new production of Hamletis tied to a small box that has its own Pandora-like qualities for its receiver, director Kate Stanley. With the lure of a lost Shakespeare play and clues from his classic works, the book belongs to the same genre as Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Codeand the movie National Treasureand became a New York Timesbest seller upon its release last fall. It's a solid follow-up to Shakespeare scholar Carrell's The Speckled Monster, a study of the fight against smallpox that won Carrell the acclaimed Discover Great New Writers label from Barnes & Noble. The audio is read well by Kathleen McNenny and should find an audience in most public libraries. Recommended.
—Joyce Kessel

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452289895
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/26/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 490,949
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Lee Carrell holds a Ph.D. in English and American literature from Harvard University and is the author of The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox. In addition to writing for Smithsonian magazine, Carrell has taught in the history and literature program at Harvard and has directed Shakespeare for Harvard’s Hyperion Theatre Company. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
Jennifer Lee Carrell’s literary thriller Interred with Their Bones introduces readers to the cryptic and fascinating world of “occult” Shakespeare, the study of the word games, puzzles, and ciphers found throughout the Bard’s works. Kate Stanley, a noted Shakespearean director and expert in the arcane puzzles found in Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays, is preparing the stage direction for a radically modern production of Hamlet at the newly rebuilt Globe Theatre. When Roz Howard, a preeminent Shakespearean scholar at Harvard and a former mentor of Kate’s, approaches her with a cryptic request for help, it triggers a horrific series of events that begins with Roz’s murder and the torching of the Globe itself, and leads to a deadly chase that spans two continents and nearly four hundred years in search of the fabled—and priceless—lost William Shakespeare play Cardenio.

From London to Harvard to the American West, Kate races to evade a killer and decipher a tantalizing string of clues hidden in the words of Shakespeare, clues that may unlock the literary world’s greatest secret.

ABOUT JENNIFER LEE CARRELL

Jennifer Lee Carrell holds a Ph.D. in English and American literature from Harvard University and is the author of The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox. In addition to writing for Smithsonianmagazine, Carrell has taught in the history and literature program at Harvard and has directed Shakespeare for Harvard’s Hyperion Theatre Company. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

A CONVERSATION WITH JENNIFER LEE CARRELL

1. One of the most intriguing things mentioned in your book is the surprising relationship between the writings of Shakespeare and pioneers of the American West. Can you tell your readers a little more about this? Why were cowboys so fascinated with the Bard?

In the nineteenth century American West, Shakespeare hadn’t yet become Literature with a capital, elitist “L.” He was simply the best storyteller out there. His popularity is actually less of an oddity than it might seem—it’s a holdover from earlier periods, all the way back to Shakespeare’s day, when his plays belonged to everyone, from the King down to the lowliest London apprentice ducking out of work to stand in the Yard of the Globe with his mates, gaping up at the shenanigans unfolding on the stage.

In the American West, Shakespeare’s stories tended to be heard, not read. If you’d had any schooling at all, you’d probably learned some long passages by heart, reciting them in front of everyone in the one-room schoolhouse—and listening to everyone else recite their passages. His language would not have seemed as foreign as it does now. If you’d ever been to church, you’d heard the rich poetic cadences of the King James bible, published in Shakespeare’s day, read aloud. Very likely, someone at home read long passages from the same Bible aloud in the evenings and on Sundays too. Just about everybody knew the sound and feel of Shakespearean language on their own tongues.

Of course it helps, too, that Shakespeare’s plays tend to be epic tales of love or war, their emotions sized XXL. Even his silliness tends to be outsized, sometimes literally, as in the comic character of jolly, rumbustious, drunken Sir John Falstaff. In thinking about Shakespeare’s popularity among cowboys in particular, it’s worth remembering that many of them were veterans of the Civil War. After the fighting stopped, they turned their backs on the cities and farms of their boyhood, choosing instead to wander professionally through vast, little-known, and often dangerous territory. (I sometimes wonder how many of them, brought forward in time, would be diagnosed with PTSD.) It’s my hunch that the grandness of Shakespeare’s stories—the cruelty, killing, laughter, and loving—just made sense to them. There’s a tale of a Montana rancher reading Julius Caesar to his cowboys in the 1880s. When he finished the “dogs of war” passage, one of the top farmhands shook his head and said, “That fellow Shakespeare could sure spill the real stuff. He’s the only poet I ever seen what was fed on raw meat.”

In the Wild West, theater kept its sense of “play” longer than it did in the more sophisticated cities. Audiences felt free to cheer, boo, hiss, whistle, applaud, and throw anything from flowers to rotten eggs onto the stage during a performance. During the gold and silver rushes in California, Colorado, and Arizona, famous actors from New York and London would travel out to the roughest of boomtowns, because the enthusiastic miners paid well, often in gold: The actors could make as much in a week in the mining camps as they might make in a month in the cities. In the absence of professional actors, though, entertainment-starved people banded together for amateur performances. Thus in Texas, a young lieutenant named Ulysses S. Grant was drafted to play Desdemona in an Army production of Othello.

Failing the willing numbers for a performance, intrepid storytellers would take it on themselves to recount the plays as stories. After hearing from an Army officer that Shakespeare was the greatest author ever, in 1863 the mountain man Jim Bridger made his way to the Oregon Trail and found someone willing to trade a yoke of oxen for a volume of Shakespeare. As he was illiterate and had no interest in learning to read, he hired a boy to read the book to him. Thereafter, he became famous for entertaining fellow mountain men around campfires by reciting his favorite plays—especially Richard III—from beginning to end. Apparently, he liked to salt his Shakespeare with oaths of his own, just to see if anyone could tell which bits were Shakespeare and which were Bridger.

American pioneers liked Shakespeare because they liked his stories and they were comfortable with his language. Nobody had told them to sit still, be quiet, and show respect in the presence of the Bard. Nobody had held up Shakespeare under glass on a silver platter and said “Look, don’t touch.” Nobody had said, Must have college degree to appreciate, much lessmust have plummy upper-class English accent to speak aloud.

If anybody had said any of those things, they would likely have been chased out of town with a volley of rotten tomatoes.

2. Having invested so much time and research in Shakespearean conspiracy theories in order to lay the groundwork forInterred with Their Bones, is there any particular theory that you think might actually hold water? If so, why?

On the question of Shakespeare’s identity, I’d say that I’m happily agnostic: I like the mystery. The writer of the plays was probably William Shakespeare of Stratford, but there are enough gaps in the evidence that it only seems responsible to admit that we don’t know “who did it” with certainty. To put it in legal terms, by the standards of a civil trial (“preponderance of evidence”), I would cast my vote to convict the actor from Stratford. By the much more demanding standards of a criminal trial, however (“beyond a reasonable doubt”), I could not, because to my mind somebody else might well be the guilty party.

That said, most of the commonly proposed alternates have serious problems. For example, Edward de Vere, the seventeenth earl of Oxford, died in 1604—although new Shakespearean plays look to have gone on premiering until about 1613.

The alternate who most intrigues me at the moment is William Stanley, sixth earl of Derby. Unlike Oxford, he had the right life span, which makes Derby possible as a candidate. But he’s also seductively plausible.

Derby is known, for instance, to have written plays (though none survive), and he was a fine musician (at least one of his compositions, a pavane, does survive). He also knew all the right things: He was well educated (including a stint of legal training at the Inns of Court) and widely traveled, and seems to have enjoyed such aristocratic pastimes as hunting and hawking (he certainly indulged in them). His family was (and is) famous for horsemanship, horse breeding, and horse racing (from their title comes the noun derby, meaning “horse race”). He grew up in a household widely acknowledged to be England’s grandest, outside the queen’s. Theater was literally in the house—his father and elder brother, Lord Strange, were two of the theater’s greatest patrons. Both the Earl of Derby’s Men and Lord Strange’s Men seem to have performed some of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, before he became the queen’s playwright (as part of the Chamberlain’s Men—essentially the queen’s company).

From infancy, Derby knew court, courtiers, grand living, and political infighting, but he never expected to be a peer himself—he was a younger son. In fact, he seems to have been something of a wild child for much of his youth, pulling himself back to the straight and narrow only when his elder brother died unexpectedly in 1594, leaving him the burden of one of England’s most powerful earldoms.

He seems to have been properly Church of England, at least on the surface, but he grew up in Lancashire, a stronghold of Roman Catholicism and of Catholic discontent—at a time when that roused suspicions of treason. His father routinely shielded Catholics from the full brunt of the increasingly ferocious laws aimed at crushing them—while managing to keep the queen’s trust. So Derby grew up surrounded by Catholic sensibilities (as well as a sense of protective duplicity), familiar—as was the writer of the plays—with such notions as confession and purgatory, with figures of friars and nuns, and with the folklore of ghosts and fairies that seems to have survived much longer in the conservative Catholic countryside than in urban Puritan neighborhoods.

Through their mother, Derby and his brother had royal blood—they were great-great-grandsons of King Henry VII through his daughter Mary Tudor (King Henry VIII’s younger sister and Queen Elizabeth’s aunt). Both brothers thus spent their lives aware of being carefully, even anxiously watched by the government, by would-be Catholic plotters, and by all those with a dangerous taste for speculating on who might succeed Queen Elizabeth. (For a sense of how solid his royal claim seemed at the time, the man who eventually became Elizabeth’s heir, King James, also claimed the English throne by virtue of being the great-great-grandson of King Henry VII—through the elder daughter, Margaret. Though Derby’s claim came through the younger daughter, he was preferred to James in some quarters because he was English, while James, as King of Scotland, was a foreigner.) Derby was, for all that, one of the Queen’s few male relations on the royal Tudor side to survive into old age without losing his head or even doing a stint in the Tower. That in itself suggests a man of no mean political and diplomatic savvy, as well as an insider’s understanding of the lures and perils of great power.

If there is a quintessentially Shakespearean topic, it is surely the tangled and twisting lures, responsibilities, and perils of power.

Derby has links to specific plays as well. The Stanleys had helped to put King Henry VII on throne, at the end of the Wars of the Roses, and Shakespeare’s history plays highlight the role of the house of Stanley. Derby also has intriguing links toLove’s Labour’s Lost and The Tempest. His turbulent relationship with his wife, Elizabeth de Vere (eldest daughter of the earl of Oxford)—which seems to have included meddling deceit on the part of a trusted lieutenant—bears at least a passing resemblance to the plot of Othello.

Derby’s status—first as the cadet of a major aristocratic dynasty, and later as the earl of Derby and head of the family—would explain why, if indeed he had a hand in composing Shakespeare’s plays, he hid his identity behind a pseudonym. Writing for the public stage would have been almost immeasurably beneath his family’s dignity. On the other hand, his exalted status would explain why Shakespeare seems to have waltzed unscathed through crises and scandals that would have landed other playwrights in scalding water—such as the playing of Richard II, with its touchy subject of deposing a monarch, on the eve of the Essex rebellion.

Given all of the circumstantial evidence, I have no idea why Derby has always been such a dark horse candidate. But he’s never had the cachet of Bacon or Oxford or even Marlowe. Perhaps it’s because he didn’t leave a body of writing behind—though to my mind, that’s perversely in his favor, since to my ears the writings of Bacon, Oxford, and Marlowe don’t sound anything like Shakespeare’s work.

Unfortunately, the Derby seat of Lathom House, for centuries one of England’s largest and finest castles, was razed to the ground by Cromwell’s army during the Civil War, with such savage finality that it no longer seems to be quite clear exactly where it stood. Any papers that might have clarified Derby’s relationship to a certain player from Stratford were likely burned then (just a few years after Derby’s death), if they had not already been destroyed. The other main palace of the earls of Derby, Knowsley Hall, still exists as one of the great stately homes of England—but since the sixth earl’s time it has been rebuilt, enlarged, and refurbished out of all recognition. However suggestive Derby’s life, learning, and character may be, real links between him and Shakespeare remain elusive; the closer you look, the more they dissolve, like the remnants of a dream.

In the end, the lack of irrefutable evidence linking anyone—including the front-runner William Shakespeare of Stratford—to the writing of the plays keeps me in the agnostic category. It’s still a mystery, and I like it that way.

But history is full of quirks. It’s always possible that something has survived and will eventually come to light.

3. You’ve directed Shakespeare for the stage; in writing this book, did you develop a different kind of relationship with the works of Shakespeare than you’d had as a director?

Thinking about whether writing Interred with Their Bones gave me a different relationship with the works of Shakespeare than directing them did—I think I’d have to turn that question inside out. Writing the novel didn’t rearrange my experience of the plays so much as directing the plays taught me how to write a novel.

As a director, it’s your job to find the “through-story” of the play at hand—the story that you want your production to tell, the linear path down which you’re going to lead your audience. With Shakespeare, that’s a harder task than with many other playwrights—but also more exhilarating. Shakespeare is one of the most generous storytellers I’ve ever run across, in that he doesn’t try to ride herd on his readers’, actors’, and directors’ imaginations. He gives almost no stage directions, and his indications of setting are brief to the point of near-blankness. Compare Beckett or Shaw or O’Neill, for example—wonderful storytellers all—but their stage directions tend to be controlling and insistent. Shaw and O’Neill can go on for what seems like pages. Beckett’s estate still famously refuses to license productions that do not adhere to the particulars of his stage directions.

By comparison, a Shakespearean play seems lush, loose, almost wanton with possibilities. Each of his plays can be tailored to tell a number of very different stories. In fact, many of his plays need streamlining in order to run in anything approaching the two hours’ time that seems to have been the usual allotment for plays in Shakespeare’s day as well as in ours. This very richness is one reason Shakespeare is hard to read: He makes his readers do a lot more imaginative work than most other authors do. In the theater, the job of meeting him halfway goes to the director. As director, you have to pick one main story that will make sense and develop it, distilling it out to clarity as you go.

Together with your actors, you have to figure out why each character must say these words, and not any other words, at just this point in time. How are they said? To whom? Why? And, once said, what effect do they have on the world of the play? When you, as a company, get it right, you know it: The words begin to conjure up a believable world, which in turn supports the words. It’s this give-and-take—this resonating feedback—between words and the world in which they’re said that makes them, in the end, so very powerful.

In a way, directing a Shakespearean play is a piece of detective work: piecing together evidence—each piece building on the next—to make, in the end, a story so plausible, so compelling, that the audience members will lose themselves in your fictional world, at least for a little while. By intuition and hard work, you have to figure out what’s necessary to that story, and have the courage and conviction to pare away what’s not—whether that’s your own pet interpretation or an arcane phrase, confusing subplot, or out-of-date joke of the playwright’s. It’s this behind-the-scenes work—the investigative rehearsals leading up to performance—that are part of what I love most about theater. No doubt that’s one reason I’m a director/writer rather than a performer!

With the novel, I started with a basic idea: a deadly treasure hunt that would lead to a lost play, and a letter that might—or might not—reveal the “real” identity of the playwright. Very early on, a clear vision of the ending—the cave, the flash flood, the final death—just appeared in my imagination. Some time after that, I just “saw” the beginning: Kate sitting on a hill with the golden box on her knees. I didn’t know what was in the box, or what she was doing there. But I knew the Globe was burning below. (What was going to end in water, somehow needed to begin with fire.) To write the novel, I had to find a “through-story” that would link this beginning with the ending, somehow picking up lots of odd Shakespearean clues and theories along the way. As I worked, the process of plotting and writing the novel came to seem very similar to the process of directing—only I was alarmingly alone, without a script for guidance.

So, I wouldn’t say that writing the novel made me think about Shakespeare in a new light because it’s about Shakespeare. I’d say the novel gave me the chance to put into practice lessons I’d learned from Shakespeare in the theater about how to tell a story, how to make a world with words. The experience of storytelling “from scratch,” as it were, embarking on making a story without a script as guide, has only deepened my awe for him as a supremely gifted teller of tales.

4. Were you given access to one of the First Folios during your research?

While researching this book, I needed to look at the First Folio time and again. Fortunately, I did not need to handle an actual First Folio—and doubly fortunately, good facsimile copies are not hard to come by. That’s what I used when I needed to see what particular pages looked like, or get the wording (and spelling) of particular phrases. There’s also a superb “library” of early Shakespeare editions, including the First Folio, online at Internet Shakespeare Editions (internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/index.html).

In my work as a scholar, I have handled many books from Shakespeare’s era, so I know the marvelous feel and smell of books like the Folio . . . and the visceral horror at the thought of their desecration.

When I taught at Harvard, I used to have my students go look at the First Folio on display in Widener Library—both to see what the actual book looks like, and to think about the implications of the way in which the University displays it—along with a Gutenberg Bible, as it happens, in a case that looks a little like an altar, in a room that looks a lot like a shrine. Many of them would come back calling the place “The Church of Shakespeare”!

Giving myself a similar assignment, while researching the book I also visited displays of First Folios at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and the British Library in London, and displays of fine facsimiles at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, and in Nash’s House (next to New Place) in Stratford-upon-Avon.

While plotting the novel, I very much wanted to have a First Folio found at the library of the Royal English College in Valladolid, though I knew they did not have one. I consoled myself, however, with the idea that it made plausible sense, historically, that one might have found its way there. Then, during a marvelous private tour of the college, I learned from the librarian that they had indeed once possessed a First Folio, but had sold it off many years ago. . . . Sometimes fiction has a sly way of sidling up to fact!

5. Why do you believe that the works of Shakespeare still hold such relevance in these modern times?

Shakespeare wrote about the fundamental experiences of life: love, hate, greed, jealousy, laughter, death. He could focus intensely on one aspect of such an experience—say, first love in Romeo and Juliet—without getting stuck there, so that his plays about love grow and change as he did, moving from first love, to middle-aged passion, to the love of aged fathers for their daughters. He could write equally well—often in the same play—about the murderous drive to revenge and the mischievous delight in laughter. And he had a special affinity for the showing the soul tangled in the lures and perils of power. Furthermore, he wrote about all these subjects with startling clarity and sometimes almost unbearable beauty, all the while keeping sentimentality at bay with a sharp, skeptical edge of irony.

All that is just to say that he was a great writer, who knew the human soul well and could show us ourselves—or who we might turn out to be, in extreme circumstances. But there are other writers who have done all these things. What sets Shakespeare apart even from other great writers is, as I’ve said above, his imaginative generosity. He does not insist that this story be told in such-and-such a way, in any particular setting, with any particular ulterior motive or political message. He does not insist on his interpretation.

Which means that his stories—as tied as they are to the core of what it is to live a human life—have a remarkable elasticity that allows them not only to change and grow with one reader across a single lifetime, but also to make sense in widely different times and places. Hamlet is the quintessential tale of English aristocratic angst; it has also been enjoyed in the East African bush as a tale of witchcraft and proper punishment. Coriolanus has been produced as a Communist play; it has also been produced as a Fascist play. Lear and Macbeth make sense in Japanese as samurai films. Henry V has been produced as an adventure glorifying the heroics of war, and as a tragedy lamenting the waste of war.

Shakespeare is great because he wrote beautifully and powerfully about the most fundamental of subjects. He is still relevant, after four hundred years, because he not only allows but requires his readers to remake his stories into tales that make sense for them.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • One of the pervading themes of Interred with Their Bones is the gap between the academic and the practical when it comes to the works of Shakespeare. The great gap between Roz Howard’s “ivory tower” approach to Shakespeare and Kate Stanley’s need to have the actual hands-on experience of directing a Shakespearean play provides the opening conflict of the novel. When it comes to classic theater, is studying the plays and the playwright enough? Is it important to experience Shakespeare’s works in the way the playwright intended, performed before a live audience?
     
  • In chapter two, Sir Henry makes the comment: “A secret is a kind of promise. It can also be a prison.” What does he mean by this? Is he trying to subtly give Kate a message about his own future actions?
     
  • One of the more fascinating characters of the novel isn’t a person at all; rather, it is a book, Shakespeare’s First Folio collection. How does the author use this book to lay the framework for the rest of the novel?
     
  • The title of the book comes from a quotation by Shakespeare: “The evil that men do lives after them / The good is oft interred with their bones.” How does this still hold true today? Why do we so often remember the names of criminals, but not the names of those who capture them?
     
  • Throughout the novel, a number of different theories emerge about the identities of possible alternate authors of Shakespeare’s work. If it was ever proven that Shakespeare did not actually write the plays attributed to him, would it lessen the importance of those plays?
     
  • This lost play is the equivalent of the Holy Grail for Kate. She seems to place the utmost importance on discovering it over all else. Do you share, or understand, her feelings about the play? What kind of artifact would be your Holy Grail?
     
  • The killer recreates murder scenes from some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. What is the significance of this and why?
     
  • In his own time, Shakespeare was considered lowbrow, an entertainer who pandered to the lower classes; time has since proven his critics wrong. Are there novelists and playwrights living today who may one day be considered the “new Shakespeare”?
     
  • One of the more fascinating details revealed in the book is Shakespeare’s unusual influence throughout the American West. Why do you think the pioneers and cowboys were drawn to Shakespeare? What purpose did Shakespeare’s works serve in their lives?
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    Posted February 21, 2008

    A reviewer

    I was looking forward to this novel. Ever since Byatt's Possession, I've been looking for the next great literary mystery. This, however, was not it. The writing is uneven, and the plot is ridiculous in that the characters behave in ways that don't make sense and don't seem to fit with how they are characterized elsewhere. Specifically, I find it absurd that Kate Stanley would pursue this the way she does. Moreover, Carrell draws on 'occult Shakespeare' in a way that is ludicrous--I nearly fell of my chair with laughter when the whole Psalm 46 theory was actually brought up and treated with some seriousness by Kate and the others. As an academic, I find this treatment of academics to be completely unrealistic. This novel smacks of conspiracy theory in a way that only Dan Brown comes close to, and no, I didn't think much of The Da Vinci Code either. I'm all for fantasy, but this kind of pseudo-historical fiction just doesn't work in many cases, especially not when as ill-thought-out and poorly written as Carrell's work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2008

    Outstanding

    I personally enjoyed this book very much. While the first couple pages were slow, the storyline picked up fast and kept me intrigued throughout the whole novel. I found myself gasping out loud several times with the plot twists near the end of the story--overall, I would recommend this book to anybody.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2008

    On Par with the DaVinci Code

    If you enjoyed the DaVinci Code, you'll love Interred. It has the same exciting pace and historical attention to detail. I'm not a Shakespeare buff but enjoyed learning about the history and mysteries that abound around this famous writer. This would make a great movie.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2014

    Loved it

    A historical mystery at its finest

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  • Posted November 13, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell It's June 29,

    Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell

    It's June 29, 2004. On the eve of Hamlet's revival at the Globe Theater in London, Kate Stanley is surprised by her mentor, Rosalind Howard, with news of a groundbreaking discovery about Shakespeare. Rosalind bestows Kate a gift with the words, "if you open it you must follow where it leads." Kate is directing the revival, so she asks Roz to meet her later that night. Before they can meet, the Globe burns to the ground and Roz is found dead. The significance of the fire is not lost in Kate, since on the same day in 1613, the Globe also burnt to the ground.

    Kate is an authority on Shakespeare and Roz has given her a brooch, with the words: "Keep it safe."

    Kate finds herself on the search for an unpublished new play by Shakespeare - Cardenio - that is based on Cervantes' Don Quixote. To find the play, Kate becomes a pawn in the puzzle that sets her off on a deadly, high stakes treasure hunt. Aided by Benjamin (Ben) Pearl, and by Sir Henry Lee, Kate races from England to America, and Spain - not knowing who's a friend and who's trying to kill her alongside everyone else who she seeks help in solving the puzzle.

    Narrated from Kate's first person point of view, Ms. Carrell unlocks a four-hundred year-old literary mystery. Unfortunately, the book is too heavy on Shakespeare. i must confess that I was not able to appreciate the craftsmanship of the work because i am not too knowledgeable in the subject. I think the book is very well written, but obviously I am not part of the audience for which it was written. A must for any Shakespeare lover....

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  • Posted December 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A literary thriller!

    Fans of Dan Brown, rejoice! Here¿s a fast-paced mystery that¿ll hold your attention. The scholar is a Harvard-educated authority on Shakespeare, the goal is to find the long-lost manuscript and may be even find out the true identity of the legendary poet. There¿s murder, a handsome stranger, cryptic letters serving as breadcrumbs showing the way and friends who may be enemies and vice versa.
    It is a satisfying read that keeps you turning the pages despite all the many Williams of Shakespeare¿s time that are so hard to keep track of. I enjoyed the fact that it was written in the format of a play with acts and interludes and that the villain wasn¿t who I thought it was (oh, I believed myself so clever!). I think I would have enjoyed it more if the author gave us glimpses of the villain along the way, the way Dan Brown does. This device serves to speed up the pace and with the entire story done from the perspective of the scholar it got bogged down in the academic explanations a couple of times.
    All in all it is a very good debut novel and I can only hope that the author will write another soon.

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  • Posted September 26, 2011

    Intelligent and fun writing

    Readers who enjoy Katherine Neville's The Eight and other similar works will love this series. Meticulously researched, but the research never overshadows the fast-moving plot as we learn more about Shakespeare's life, works and historical speculation about that work. There is a second, interwoven story set in Shakespeare's time that helps frame the contemporary story. A page-turner, with many twists and improbable-yet-fun mysterious benefactors and old friends popping up at just the right time. Followed by an equally good sequel, Haunt Me Still.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2011

    Loved it

    I dont like shakespeare. But this book has given his works new life!

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  • Posted January 15, 2011

    Highly Recommend

    This book kept me guessing right up to the end...unpredictable,and curiously intriguing

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  • Posted June 17, 2010

    Long on plot and action; short on characterization

    This Shakespeare-themed thriller comes up short on what Shakespeare's characters abound in -- character. There's plenty of plot, sufficient action, and foreshadowing dripping from every page. But it's hard to stay interested in a book if you can't stay interested in the characters. These days comic book characters are more vivid than these stereotypes. The only creation with potential gets killed off in the first few pages. I wish the story were driven by something other than flashes of incredible insight and intuition.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell

    "Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides: Who cover faults, at last shame them derides." ~William Shakespeare, King Lear

    A hit-and-go paced novel with twist and turns at every page. With the recent discoveries about the implausibility of the boy from Stratford-Upon-Avon writing the most widely read opus in literature; Carrell delves deep into the mystery that has been debates for centuries. Each discovery leads to another mystery which will leave your shocked by the unexpected results. A can't-put-down read for audiences of any field or background.

    Fans of historical fiction will love the thoroughly researched topics discussed in the novel. Literary fanatics will begin to be nostalgic as they see another side of Shakespeare. All will be left wondering why they wasted time in class on Shakespearean sonnets and not the mysterious and controversial history surrounding him. At times the novels take turns that are entirely implausible and leaves the reader disappointed in the lapse of creativity. However, the scholarly intrigue of true-living figures will keep the audiences guessing. Some knowledge of the seventeenth century will be useful as many names mentioned are obscure and not widely studied. A must have for reading by the fireside. Definitely a book to gain the creases of a book that leaves the reader guessing even after the ending page.

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  • Posted June 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Shakespearian Treasure Hunt

    Shakespeare's lost plays? Do they exist? And wouldn't it be astounding to find one of them hidden in an out-of-the-way place or in an old chest? To paraphrase the Bard, "the play's the thing~~~"; that's the core of this fantastic mystery novel. And it is superb ~~ a treat for the mind, philosopical or otherwise. Ms Carrell's style is immensely readable, her research superb, her knowledge of all things Shakespeare equally superb. And, in the grand British tradition of who-dunnits, nothing is given away until the end & the reader is left only with clues to solve the puzzle. A grand tale told the old-fashioned way by a superb writer & a must for anyone's library.

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  • Posted May 6, 2010

    Fast paced and exciting

    The plot moves quickly and really sucks you in. It is great for lovers of historical (with liberties) mysteries and Shakespeare enthusiasts alike. Although it explores unconfirmed theories about Shakespeare and who he was (or wasn't), it was a thrilling ride and a must read! I loved it and I am looking forward to reading her next novel. I just received it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent first novel by Jennifer Lee Carrell

    I was never a Shakespeare fan and was not sure how I would receive the book, however, the plot was engaging and captivating. It also entwined many facts about Shakespeare, the time and the cities it was set in. Carrell hedges plausible theories of the identity of Shakespeare in a dramatic twist. Her characters share different opinions of his life and identity, although, the reader is left to choose for themselves. The plots and twists are definitely worthy of The DaVinci Code incorporated with impeccable research! As soon as I was done with the book, I carted out 4 Shakespeare texts from college with a whole new perspective and focus!

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  • Posted April 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The cover is the best part of the book

    To be honest, I bought the book because it was on sale and one of the reviews on the dust cover said the action in it compared to the Da Vinci Code, so that's what I was looking for. Boy was I disappointed. The action while not completely boring is nor nearly as cliff hanging as any Dan Brown book I have read. Long story short, It's a book about a lost manuscript of Shakespeare and the quest to find it. If you are stuck in an airport and need something to get you through, or you are an avid Shakespeare fan, then I would recommend this book, otherwise pick up the nearest Dan Brown book and go with that.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    Intriguing, well-developed thrilling plot, hard to put down

    I hope this is just the beginning for Jennifer Lee Carrell! What an outstanding first novel, in my opinion, the story is very interesting and the characters are easy to empathize with. The concept of the mystery surrounding Shakespeare and the many theories over the years regarding the possibility of another writer or group of writers being responsible for his plays is intriguing. She does a brilliant job of helping the reader visualize the story. Such a thrilling adventure it was the first book I've read that quickly in a while, as I just couldn't tear myself away from the excitement... every page led to another mysterious situation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2009

    As a Shakespeare nerd...

    I cannot help but think there is a big part most are missing from this story-the mystery revolving around Shakespeare and his plays. If anything, this book made me want to pull out my books from college, and reread all of them. Looking away from the obvious gaps in the plot, I think all the mystery of Shakespeare was captured. I love the idea of missing manuscripts! The other part I loved was that Shakespeare was never what he appeared and when looking at his texts, you were able to read between the lines to get closer to his meaning. I feel that this eliment was captured in this book. Like I said, I'm a big nerd, and Shakespeare's work always makes me geek out just a little bit. So this book was exciting for me, and made me want to go back to reading texts in the Stacks.

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  • Posted June 19, 2009

    Disappointing

    I anticipated that this book would be a hard-to-put-down thriller. It was nothing of the kind. The chase for the lost, Shakespeare manuscript was convoluted, and too difficult to follow to be a simple, pleasurable read. Also, I felt that that the plot was stretched out too much; more quantity than quality. I often had to remind myself of why the main character was even on the quest in the first place.

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  • Posted June 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    boring

    The plot, the search for a lost manuscript, would have been alright if it were based upon more than the initial murder. Any normal person would have let the police handle matters instead of running off chasing a beyond tiny clue. Too much running around. It began to make no sense. I almost didn't finish the book.

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  • Posted November 18, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Interred with their bones

    Good mystery, like the back and forth between time periods and the mystery with historical quandry. Does leave a little hanging, so as not to fully wrap up the historical part. Cna't wait for the second book!

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