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But Soft! What Time Traveling Young Woman Through Yonder Window Breaks?

A reivew of Kissing Shakespeare, by Pamela Mingle, in which Jenny really likes the Shakespeare part.

But Soft! What Time Traveling Young Woman Through Yonder Window Breaks?

BOOK REPORT for Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

Cover Story: Creepy
BFF Charm: Nay
Swoonworthy Scale: 5?
Talky Talk: Dramatic Aside
Bonus Factors: Shakespeare, History
Relationship Status: Our Stars Did Not Align

Cover Story: Creepy

Is it just me, or does this cover make it look like that girl just got molested? There's something about the way she's sitting, and the straps on her dress that just scream Stranger Danger!

The Deal:

Miranda has just come off her opening night performance as Kate in her school's version of The Taming of the Shrew, and she feels rotten -- about her performance and life in general. She'll never compare to her mother, the world renowned Shakespearean actress who was too busy playing in Rome to even bother coming to her daughter's opening night. But then one of her fellow thespians -- a quiet new boy -- drags her onto the roof of the theater, and pulls a funny little instrument from his pocket before saying some strange lines… and transporting them both back to 1581. When Miranda asks why, the boy -- Stephen -- tells her that young William Shakespeare is in danger of becoming a Jesuit priest, and if he does that, all of his works will be lost forever. And just how is Miranda supposed to prevent this from happening? By seducing Will Shakespeare, of course.

BFF Charm: Nay

Miranda is my least favorite type of heroine, and falls victim to one of the dangers of an A reading YA. She seems to think she's being an individual, when she actually just accepts whatever she's told -- sure, part of that was due to trying to fit in with the times, but still. She's also the girl who has absolutely no self-esteem, but actually really has a lot of self-esteem. "Oh, I'm so plain with my plump lips, and giant blue eyes and lustrous mahogany hair! Why does EVERYONE constantly flirt with me? What could they POSSIBLY see in me or my magic vagina that apparently has the ability to change the fate of one of the world's most important writers?  Can YOU tell me, please?!!" The thing is, both of those things are issues I have with some of the young teenaged girls in my life -- and I try on a regular basis to sit them down and have a little chat about reality -- so I can't fault the author for not writing a realistic character.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5?

There was massive potential for swoon here, but for me, it lacked the punch it needed to live up to its potential. It seemed like the author almost wanted to mirror Kate and Petruchio's relationship, but was never able to commit to the hate needed to stoke to fires of passion, so I never felt the connection.  I DO think that there are a lot of traditional romance novel lovers who might disagree with me, so don't just take my word on it.  However, Stephen also totally kidnapped Miranda, and while she's upset by the fact, I didn't think she was appropriately freaked out, terrified, and angry about it. Plus there's the whole seducing part, which had some really -- intentionally -- awful parts. Plus, plus, most of this book takes place in the 16th century, which was not such a good time to have lady parts.

Talky Talk: Dramatic Aside

Mingle does a great job of integrating Miranda's modern way of thinking into asides while she learns to speak appropriately for the time she's in, which was a great way for me to get to see her character develop throughout the story. Even though I didn't particularly like the protagonist or feel the swoon, I kept coming back for more to see how the story would resolve itself, and I enjoyed the lush descriptions of both people and places in the time period.

Bonus Factor: Shakespeare

The author asks a really intriguing question in her book: where would we be today without the writings of Shakespeare? Being a theater nerd, I'm obviously a fan, but when you start to think about the things Shakespeare's writings spawned, the effects start becoming incredibly vast. I mean, I may kind of hate Romeo and Juliet, but without Romeo and Juliet, there would have been no West Side Story!!!! And a world with no "Tonight" medley is a world I don't want to live in!!!

Bonus Factor: History

Shakespeare wasn't the only famous person we get to meet. We also get to meet Edmund Campion! Who -- for those of you not up on your famous Jesuit martyrs -- was a famous Jesuit martyr!!! Whose feast was just this past Saturday! What a coincidence!

Casting Call:

Shailene Woodley as Miranda

Despite my misgivings about Miranda, I think if Ms. Woodley was cast, she'd make me love her in an instant.

Relationship Status: Our Stars Did Not Align

There is so much this book and I have in common, I thought we might fall in love. But while we have many of the same interests, this book and I lacked the chemistry I'm sure we could both find in others.  So we'll part as friends, and say no more.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from the Delacorte Press  I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Kissing Shakespeare is available now.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.
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