Buried Shakespearean treasure from an ancestor’s tomb brings a disillusioned BBC reporter home to solve her father’s murder and restart her life with the man who has always loved her.
When Margaret Hamilton’s father rescues Elizabethan manuscripts from a flooded tomb, he asks his daughter’s former fiancé Stephen to help decipher them, bringing the couple back together again.
At first, the documents only seem to resurrect Anne Vavasour’s remarkable true story: how she came to Queen Elizabeth’s court as a sixteen-year-old Maid of Honour; was seduced by the Earl of Oxford; delivered a babe at court in the attending maidens’ chamber; was sent to the Tower; yet later flourished for twenty years as the mistress of the wealthy widower Sir Henry Lee, Elizabeth’s champion at the joust (and rumored half-brother of the queen).
But when Margaret and Stephen uncover links between the buried papers and Shakespeare’s Macbeth, ruthless art and antiquities thieves scheme to take the priceless papers at any cost.
Blending fiction with little-known facts from history and research, The Vavasour Macbeth ranges from the Elizabethan and Jacobean courts to modern-day England, revealing many mysteries of ancient handwriting, manuscripts, and playmaking along the way. Not all facts taught in school about the Elizabethan era, Shakespeare, and Macbeth are proven, and you may be surprised to learn how many questions really do remain open and unsolved.
|Publisher:||Post Hill Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Bart Casey grew up in London, studied Literature at Harvard, and trained as a professor before switching to an advertising career, living many years amidst the settings for The Vavasour Macbeth. His recent biography of Victorian Laurence Oliphant was chosen by Kirkus for its Best Books of 2016.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I thought the idea behind the novel was really interesting and offered great potential, both for exploring a lesser known but fascinating historical figure and for introducing references to Macbeth. I would have liked to have learned much more about Anne Vavasour, her life and times and the possible theatrical connections. Likewise, there were so many opportunities to draw on the Scottish play for inspiration. Unfortunately, the author failed to exploit the promising material and got bogged down in the rather dull romance between Margaret and Stephen, while the present-day murder mystery was somewhat predictable and the motivation not particularly convincing. The Bosnian sub-theme was also confusing and did not seem to relate much to the rest of the storyline. Although the book is well-written and the subject matter intriguing, all in all it failed to hold my interest and I found none of the characters really believable.
A cache of Elizabethan documents is found in a tomb, why they are there and what they mean is a mystery. The quest to determine their origins and context takes on new importance when the vicar who found them is murdered. A 16th-century mystery combines with a 20th-century mystery in a wonderful story the merges fact and fiction. I was captivated by the description before even starting to read and once I started I became fascinated by the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the retelling of 16th-century events, as they related to Anne Vavasour, prior to the occurrence of the 20th-century events at the beginning of each part of the story. It adds context to what is learned about Anne during the investigation. Even tidbits as trivial as how a book cover was made provides clues about how rare it is to find personal documents from that period in time, and why Anne may have kept them. The characters were engaging. Steven is intelligent, warm and kind. Maggie’s character evolved over the course of the story from mildly abrasive to an appealing, warm character with depth. The villains were utterly repellent…but that’s a good thing…I found their outright smarminess perfect for the story. My issues with the book are few. There was a bit of retelling of facts and/or events. Also, the backgrounds of characters and their relationships was sometimes provided in long passages, which felt somewhat artificial. This threw the rhythm off and sometimes bogged down the story. Overall this was a very educational, entertaining, and enjoyable read. My thanks to NetGalley and Post Hill Press for the advanced reading copy for my review.