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Kissing Shakespeare

Kissing Shakespeare

3.8 12
by Pamela Mingle
     
 

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A romantic time travel story that's ideal for fans of novels by Meg Cabot and Donna Jo Napoli—and, of course, Shakespeare.

Miranda has Shakespeare in her blood: she hopes one day to become a Shakespearean actor like her famous parents. At least, she does until her disastrous performance in her school's staging of The Taming of the Shrew

Overview

A romantic time travel story that's ideal for fans of novels by Meg Cabot and Donna Jo Napoli—and, of course, Shakespeare.

Miranda has Shakespeare in her blood: she hopes one day to become a Shakespearean actor like her famous parents. At least, she does until her disastrous performance in her school's staging of The Taming of the Shrew. Humiliated, Miranda skips the opening-night party. All she wants to do is hide.

Fellow cast member, Stephen Langford, has other plans for Miranda. When he steps out of the backstage shadows and asks if she'd like to meet Shakespeare, Miranda thinks he's a total nutcase. But before she can object, Stephen whisks her back to 16th century England—the world Stephen's really from. He wants Miranda to use her acting talents and modern-day charms on the young Will Shakespeare. Without her help, Stephen claims, the world will lost its greatest playwright.

Miranda isn't convinced she's the girl for the job. Why would Shakespeare care about her? And just who is this infuriating time traveler, Stephen Langford? Reluctantly, she agrees to help, knowing that it's her only chance of getting back to the present and her "real" life. What Miranda doesn't bargain for is finding true love . . . with no acting required.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Rochelle Garfinkel
Combining a bit of time travel with romance, spies, politics, religion, and acting, Mingle has created a plausible and unique story of Shakespeare's youth. Miranda, an average teen whose parents are both world-famous Shakespearean actors, has had a very disappointing opening night performance as Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew and is ready to give up acting altogether. When a fellow actor whom she barely knows asks if she would like to meet William Shakespeare, she assumes he is a huge drama nerd, but he claims, "Shakespeare needs our help. Desperately. All the plays and sonnets could be lost forever if we do not act now." Although she wants nothing to do with him, he forcibly takes her to the school roof and transports them both to Lancashire, England, in 1581. Under duress, Miranda agrees to seduce the teenaged Shakespeare in order to ensure that he becomes more interested in theater and writing than in becoming a priest. This is a book that will appeal to teens obsessed with drama and theater and may appeal to history fans and Anglophiles as well. For a reader without prior interest in and some knowledge of Elizabethan England, the politics and religious issues surrounding the story may be too complicated. It could be a good book for teens who only read romances to interest them in historical fiction, or even Shakespeare's plays themselves. Shakespeare fans will definitely enjoy the glimpse into his life as a teen, even though it is just a guess as to what really happened. Reviewer: Rochelle Garfinkel
Children's Literature - Suzanna E. Henshon
Would not you like to meet William Shakespeare? And travel back in time to Lancashire, England in 1581? Miranda loves reading and performing in Shakespeare's plays, but she feels intimidated by her parents who are famous actors and perform around the world. After a disastrous performance as Kate in the school production of The Taming of the Shrew, Miranda doubts her ability as an actor and decides to leave the stage forever. But that night she is approached by a fellow actor, Stephen, who offers to introduce her to William Shakespeare. Miranda is flabbergasted, but reluctantly joins him on a journey back in time to Tudor England. Soon she finds herself seducing the great playwright, and becoming comfortable in petticoats and dresses. But Miranda misses home, and the comforts of the twenty-first century. To her surprise, she falls in love and receives a token of this affection. Finally Miranda must decide whether to stay in 1581 with a young man she loves deeply—or travel 500 years into the future and return home. Young readers will enjoy this marvelously crafted historical novel with a time travel twist.
Kirkus Reviews
The only thing that's not predictable about this time-travel romance is its exceptionally silly premise. Stephen Langford, a 16th-century time traveler, has a vision that the 17-year-old William Shakespeare may opt to join the priesthood instead of going on to write his plays and sonnets. So he travels to 21st-century Boston, where he plucks Miranda Graham, scion of a Shakespearean acting family, to go back to 1581 Lancashire with him to seduce Shakespeare. Mm-hmmm. Posing as Stephen's sister Olivia, Miranda infiltrates the household of Stephen's uncle, a closet Catholic who is housing both fledgling schoolmaster Shakespeare and enemy of the state Edmund Campion, leader of a Jesuit mission to convert England's Protestants. Miranda/Olivia adjusts to 16th-century life with ludicrous ease, despite its hygienic idiosyncrasies (public use of toothpicks) and her frequent lapses into 21st-century diction. Though she finds the idea of losing her virginity to Shakespeare titillating (and enjoys helping him write The Taming of the Shrew), it will surprise no one that she falls in love with the hunky Stephen instead. The tepid mystery revolving around the Privy Court investigation of Campion's whereabouts is likewise underwhelming in its suspense. Vague waves of the authorial hand attempt to "explain" Stephen's visions and time-traveling ability, but only the astonishingly incurious Miranda will accept them. Despite the author's obvious love of Shakespeare, this offering achieves only inanity. (Fantasy romance. 12 & up)
From the Publisher
School Library Journal, August 2012:
"This novel is definitely a cut above the typical teen romance. A delightful story about star-crossed, time-traveling lovers."

Booklist, September 15, 2012:
"Mingle remains true to the history and events of the era, thus revealing the challenge of living in a time of religious persecution and suppression of women."

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Kidnapped after her opening-night performance in her high school production of The Taming of the Shrew, Miranda finds herself transported back to 1581. She was chosen by Stephen Langford, a fellow cast mate who turns out to be a time traveler visiting the current century. He has prophetic visions and his latest one informed him that William Shakespeare is dangerously close to joining the Jesuits, thus depriving the future of his influential plays and sonnets. Stephen is convinced that Miranda, with her acting skills and presumed promiscuity-after all, contemporary advertising and TV would lead a man from the past to think all modern-day girls are promiscuous-is the only one who can keep Shakespeare from the priesthood by seducing him. Reluctant at first, Miranda, who is the daughter of Shakespearean actors, agrees to his plan. What they don't bargain for is falling for each other. Mingle skillfully weaves historical realities of late-16th-century England with what little is known about Shakespeare's early life. Although it's difficult at times to believe that Miranda, despite her accomplished acting skills, could fool anyone into believing that she is a 16th-century young woman, this novel is definitely a cut above the typical teen romance. A delightful story about star-crossed, time-traveling lovers.—Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn, NY

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385741965
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
08/14/2012
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Boston, Present Day

I was all alone backstage. Flinging props and costumes around, slamming cupboard doors, kicking a row of empty water bottles. I’d planned to clean up, but instead I was wrecking everything.

We opened The Taming of the Shrew tonight. A few months back, when I found out I’d gotten the role of Katherine, I knew I was headed for trouble. I hadn’t even auditioned for it. I wanted to play Bianca, the sweet daughter, the one all the suitors are after. But Mr. Finley, our drama teacher, wouldn’t even consider it. “Miranda, you will play Katherine,” he’d said. “The role was one of your mother’s triumphs, and you must carry on the tradition.” Inside, I’d fumed. My mother again. It was always about her.

So here it was, opening night, and I’d totally screwed up. Rather than playing Katherine with the subtleties the role deserved, I’d played her as the traditional shrew turned submissive. The woman completely tamed by her husband. Afraid to make the role my own, I practically sleepwalked through the performance. When the curtain fell, I raced offstage, defying anybody to look at me. No way could I deal with polite smiles, insincere congratulations, and, worst of all, pitying eyes that quickly darted away.

My cell phone vibrated in my jeans pocket. It was Macy, my friend and fellow actor, so I answered.

“Miranda? Are you all right?”

“Yeah,” I fibbed. I hated it when people asked me that, even friends who actually cared. No, I’m not all right. I feel like a failure and an idiot. And I let everyone down.

“Where are you?”

I heard loud music and laughing in the background, so I knew where she was. The opening night party. “I’m still changing and putting stuff away. What a mess.” I didn’t mention that my foul temper had caused the mess in the first place.

“You’re not thinking of skipping the party, are you?”

I drew a deep breath and squeezed my eyes shut. “Macy, please don’t freak out, but I’m not coming.”

“What do you mean you’re not coming? You have to come! It’s opening night.” She broke off to talk to someone, then said, “John wants to talk to you.”

“No! Tell him I’m sick or something.” John had played Petruchio, and we’d been dating, sort of. He was a nice guy, but he wanted more than I was willing to give. I heard Macy making excuses for me.

I waited a few seconds, until she was back. “What’s the matter with you?” she asked. “I’m sure he knew I was lying.”

“I ruined the whole performance, Mace! I sucked. I can’t face anybody right now.” Or maybe ever.

“You weren’t that bad.”

“Thanks. I feel much better. Look, after Sunday’s closing, I’m driving up to Maine, to our place at Acadia. I need to be alone for a while. I think I want to quit acting, Mace.”

“Oh my God, Miranda, give it a little time. Everybody has their off nights. Remember how good you were in Much Ado About Nothing?”

I spoke over the lump in my throat, my voice sounding raspy. “I had about ten lines in Much Ado! And this was more than just an ‘off night.’ I stunk from the first rehearsal.”

“This is because of your mom, right? You think you can never measure up to her. That’s so not true.”

“Mace, can we talk about this later? It’s late, and I want to get out of here.”

“Please come to the party. You’ll feel better.”

“I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” I said, ending the call. If I listened long enough, she might wear me down.

Driving up to Acadia National Park had popped into my head while Macy and I were talking. There was no reason I couldn’t go. My grandparents, who kept an eye on me when my parents were on tour, wouldn’t care. Spring break started next week, and the play, mercifully, would be over. I loved it up there. With its dense forests and deep lakes, Acadia was a great place to hide out. I could use the time to reflect on life after acting and on how I could get out of going to Yale Drama. And on what I dreaded most: telling my parents I didn’t want to be an actor. The tears I’d been holding back overflowed, trailing down my cheeks.

“Miranda?”

I spun around, my heart racing. But it was only Stephen Langford, another actor. Someone else who hadn’t gone to the party.

I brushed my cheeks with the back of my hand. “You scared me. I thought everyone had left.” He was still in costume, I noticed. That wasn’t his Taming of the Shrew outfit, though. It looked Tudor, like something a man at Queen Elizabeth’s court would wear. The first Queen Elizabeth.

“I need to talk to you,” he said. “Urgently.”

I started throwing the plastic water bottles littering the floor into a recycling bin. What could be so urgent? I barely knew him. He’d shown up at the Dennis School early last semester, just in time for auditions. Finley practically drooled when he heard that posh British accent, so it was no surprise when Stephen won the role of Lucentio. Outside of rehearsals, he never hung out with us, so none of us knew him very well.

“Why are you wearing that costume?” I asked.

“It’s not a costume. These are my real clothes.” He gestured at his outfit, and I sensed a challenge in his expression. Did he want me to question that ridiculous statement?

Stephen had grown a mustache and short beard for the play, and I now realized he looked years older than a typical high school senior. He was a good-looking guy, with full lips and a straight nose. One of his front teeth slightly overlapped the other, but that didn’t spoil his smile. Macy said she’d caught him staring at me a few times during rehearsals, but I’d never noticed.

I lowered my eyes. “Right.” I moved on to the dresses I’d thrown to the floor and started hanging them up on the wardrobe rack. They’d be in the wrong order, but someone could fix that tomorrow. “So what do you want to talk to me about?”

“Will you stop fussing with those damnable costumes!”

I felt my jaw tense. “What’s your problem?”

“Sit down. Please.” He tilted his head toward a trunk. “I need your help with something.”

I could see he wasn’t going to give up until I agreed to listen. With an irritated sigh, I tossed the last gown aside and plopped down on the trunk. “What is it?”

Stephen dropped to his knees in front of me, and I instinctively drew back. “How would you like to meet William Shakespeare?”

A laugh burst from my mouth. “You’re crazy.” I tried to stand up, but he put his hands on my shoulders and pushed me back down. My rear smacked the trunk, hard. “Shit!”

“Sorry,” Stephen said. “But I’m not crazy. Shakespeare needs our help. Desperately. All the plays and sonnets could be lost forever if we do not act now.” This guy was either the biggest drama nerd in existence or a lunatic. Probably the latter. Wonderful.

“Last time I checked, the Bard lived in a different century. Like the sixteenth?” All of a sudden, I got it. “Wait a minute. Is this for one of those cheesy reenactment things?” Reenactors are big in Boston. They’re all over the Common, dressed like Redcoats or Patriots, acting out battles or meetings or whatever. Doing a Tudor-era reenactment here seemed kind of strange, though. “Thanks, but I’m not interested.”

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
School Library Journal, August 2012:
"This novel is definitely a cut above the typical teen romance. A delightful story about star-crossed, time-traveling lovers."

Booklist, September 15, 2012:
"Mingle remains true to the history and events of the era, thus revealing the challenge of living in a time of religious persecution and suppression of women."

Meet the Author

PAMELA MINGLE is a former teacher and librarian. Kissing Shakespeare is her first novel.

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