Another Hardwick cosy-crumpet tale about a spunky gel making her way--here in pre-WW I Birmingham, Stratford, and London--through a cheerfully slovenly plot involving Shakespearean actors, a geneaological mystery, and a messy (but satisfying) love affair. Miranda Heriot is an orphan raised by a vacuous grandfather and hateful grandmother--who detests the theatre (as well as Miranda) because Miranda's mum nipped off with an actor, died, and dumped baby M. on the grandfolks. But Miranda runs away from a typist's career to join (as a thrilled gofer) the fine company headed by actor/director/manager Frank Benson (""never handsome, only magnificent""), the Bard's devoted slave. Among the actors, who spice their talk with Quotes: gorgeous Rachel and her love, sour Ricky; Rachel's motherly sister Polly, wife of schoolteacher Edward and mother of teenage son Harold; and divine Godfrey Arnold, the company's Prince Hal--who shocks Miranda with kisses and is appalled by her innocence. Then, knowing she'll never be an actress, Miranda moves in with Polly and her family in London. And, after her grandparents' deaths, she discovers the Book--a 1611 Bible which seems to point to her descent from. . . W. Shakespeare! Odds bodkins! So reporters sniff around, including red-haired, rough-edged Andrew Craigie--who'll be a non-marrying True Love over the rocky years (baby, War, etc.) ahead. ""A deal of skimble-scamble stuff"" (Henry IV), but harmless and sometimes amusing.