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Available for Pre-Order. This item will be released on August 20, 2024

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Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

Jodi Picoult's latest novel questions the creation, distribution and lasting legacy of art in a story that shines a light on unsung playwrights.

From the New York Times bestselling co-author of Mad Honey comes an “inspiring” (Elle) novel about two women, centuries apart-one of whom is the real author of Shakespeare's plays-who are both forced to hide behind another name.

“You'll fall in love with Emilia Bassano, the unforgettable heroine based on a real woman that Picoult brings vividly to life in her brilliantly researched new novel.”-Kristin Hannah, author of The Women

Young playwright Melina Green has just written a new work inspired by the life of her Elizabethan ancestor Emilia Bassano. But seeing it performed is unlikely, in a theater world where the playing field isn't level for women. As Melina wonders if she dares risk failure again, her best friend takes the decision out of her hands and submits the play to a festival under a male pseudonym.

In 1581, young Emilia Bassano is a ward of English aristocrats. Her lessons on languages, history, and writing have endowed her with a sharp wit and a gift for storytelling, but like most women of her day, she is allowed no voice of her own. Forced to become a mistress to the Lord Chamberlain, who oversees all theatre productions in England, Emilia sees firsthand how the words of playwrights can move an audience. She begins to form a plan to secretly bring a play of her own to the stage-by paying an actor named William Shakespeare to front her work.

Told in intertwining timelines, By Any Other Name, a sweeping tale of ambition, courage, and desire centers two women who are determined to create something beautiful despite the prejudices they face. Should a writer do whatever it takes to see her story live on . . . no matter the cost? This remarkable novel, rooted in primary historical sources, ensures the name Emilia Bassano will no longer be forgotten.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

06/03/2024

Picoult (Wish You Were Here) offers a stimulating if muddled parallel narrative of two women writers, each of whose work is credited to a man. In 1582, poet Emilia Bassano becomes consort to Lord Hunsdon, Queen Elizabeth’s Lord Chamberlain. At the time, women were forbidden to have anything to do with the theater, but when Emilia crosses paths with William Shakespeare, he’s impressed with her work and agrees to pay for the sonnets and plays she’s secretly written if he can take credit for them. Thus begins a working relationship that spans decades. In the present day, Emilia’s descendant Melina Green writes a play about Emilia and Shakespeare, but fears she won’t be able to get it produced after being told that people only relate to plays by men. Unbeknownst to Melina, her roommate, Andre, submits the play to a fringe festival under the pseudonym Mel Green, leading the artistic director to assume the writer is a man. After the play is accepted, Andre poses as Mel during the production, with Melina pretending to be his assistant. The Elizabethan sections, which follow Emilia through an unhappy marriage as the work she wrote for Shakespeare receives acclaim, are the strongest. In comparison, Picoult’s depictions of racism and sexism in the contemporary theater world are a bit simplistic. It’s a mixed bag. Agent: Laura Gross, Laura Gross Literary. (Aug.)

From the Publisher

You’ll fall in love with Emilia Bassano, the unforgettable heroine based on a real woman that Picoult brings vividly to life in her brilliantly researched new novel. Jodi Picoult’s books always start passionate conversations, and this one is sure to get people talking. Book clubs will embrace this rich, inspiring story.”—Kristin Hannah

“A blend of historical fiction and modern-day settings, the novel gives us timelines that intertwine and surprise. . . . This one is definitely for fans of Shakespeare’s work; Picoult has done her research.”Harper’s Bazaar

“[An] inspiring work of feminist literature.”Elle

“Perennial bestseller Picoult . . . takes on another hot-button topic sure to ignite controversy and conversation: the question of Shakespearean authorship. . . . [A] timely and affecting tale . . . Picoult’s many, many fans will pounce on her latest incisive, pot-stirring tale, while the Shakespearean theme will attract even more readers.”Booklist, starred review

“Picoult creates a richly detailed portrait of daily life in Elizabethan England, from sumptuous castles to seedy hovels. . . . It’s Emilia’s story, and Picoult lovingly brings her to life. . . . A vibrant tale of a remarkable woman.”Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal

06/01/2024

Bestselling Picoult's (Wish You Were Here) latest intricately weaves topical, timely, and profound discussions of what it means to be heard at any cost, when to listen, and how to make room. In parallel timelines, two women playwrights struggle to be heard. Each must suppress her identity to get her work performed. In 1581, Emilia Bassano lives a frustrated life. She has no agency. and she must conceal her Jewish identity. She writes her pain, love, and rage into works of art forever attributed to William Shakespeare. In the present, Melina Green's newest play, inspired by Emilia's life and work, is submitted to a contest in this field still plagued by misogyny. In a Shakespearean twist of events, it is Melina's fellow struggling playwright and best friend André who submitted Melina's play, under a male pseudonym, in an attempt to give his friend a leg up. Picoult gives Bassano/Shakespeare a run for her money with this heartbreaking delight that deftly and soundly explores theories of Shakespeare's authorship and Bassano's history. VERDICT Fans of nuanced social commentary, Shakespeare origin stories, and anyone open to giving space will enjoy this highly recommended book. Readers might even begin mentally amending "Shakespearean" to "Bassanian" after reading it.—Julie Kane

Product Details

BN ID: 2940191677576
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication date: 08/20/2024
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 200,320
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