Let's face two major factors:- this is an extraordinarily revealing book which presents Shakespeare at a time of deep crisis and actually provides a new dimension of the man himself; it is one of the most difficult books to read because of the determined sustaining of the speech of the period throughout its 400 pages... We encounter London and the Globe Theatre, Lord Essex in power, Shakespeare and his players successful. Then the world tumbles down around their ears. Essex is sent to the Tower, charged with treason; the theatre is closed, under charge of backing Essex in the playing of Richard II and the players exiled to Scotland; and Will Shakespeare goes back to Stratford, burdened with the knowledge of his betrayal of Anne Hathaway, and his emotional involvement with the Dark Lady of the Sonnets. This murky thread colors the months that follow, as Will tries to throw himself into playing his part as a citizen of his town, as a husband to Anne, whom he truly loves, as an enlightened world citizen attempting to stem the tide of passion, superstitution, intolerance in the provinces. Then his evil genius reenters his life; she is pregnant- by Shakespeare's patron, who refuses to marry her, choosing the Tower instead- and she sends for Will Shakespeare, to ""amuse her"" she says. How this crisis is met; how the writing of Hamlet progresses tortuously; how the scene changes in London and the players are recalled- all is told against a full picture of Stratford attempting to placate the old forces while staunchly defending the new. There is fascinating period material here, a vivid portrait of a Shakespeare whose personal life comes through more sharply here, and a lively tale although some may be hampered by the authentic Elizabethan speech.