'Since meeting you, dear lady, I have put quill to page every day. I write and write and write.'
Headstrong young widow Katherine de L'Isle lives a comfortable but solitary existence in her uncle's
home of Lufanwal Hall until events conspire to shatter her tranquillity. First,
the family priest is murdered—for his Catholic sympathies—causing her uncle and
protector to flee the country. Abandoned by their father figure, the Lufanwal
residents struggle to cope and old rivalries fester beneath the surface. Into
this midst of this upheaval, there arrives a new schoolmaster from by the name of
William Shakespeare. Stratford
Rude, flirtatious and wickedly witty, Will appals Katherine. Yet the discovery of a mutual love of poetry draws them together and Katherine finds she can never stay away from him for long. First she is seduced by his words, then by his passion. Beneath her excitement, Katherine knows that Will already has a wife. She becomes his muse but will she ever be his true love?
Alone, vulnerable and entangled, Katherine is plunged heart and soul into a passion she cannot control. Meanwhile scandal and intrigue are growing around her family: murder, witchcraft, adultery and high treason loom on the horizon. Worst of all, the more she learns of charming young Will Shakespeare, the more it seems that he is not who he claims to be...
Newly published in the UK by Penguin, it has been already been critically acclaimed in the US. So I am honoured and thrilled to welcome an author new to me of a historical novel that has swept me away and ask her about THE TUTOR.
So, I’m fully aware that with the book launching in the UK I’m in
Shakes-country, which is thrilling and yet anxiety producing at the same
time. The good news is, so far, The London Daily Mail called The Tutor, “hugely enjoyable,” “erudite”
and “emotionally intelligent,” and the Hello
Magazine Literary Loveliness blog described my writing as “brilliant” and
said The Tutor has “politics,
religion, romance, and literature, so whatever your favourite genre is, chances
are this book will appeal.” While I’m still not confident, and maybe that’s my
nature, those early reviews have been very encouraging. UK
Welcome, Andrea. How does it feel that your novel that has already been published to acclaim in the
USA is now being published here in the UK? Confident
AC: I feel excited and apprehensive. A few weeks ago I did a radio spot here—the audience for which is considered high brow - and before the taping, when we were writing the introduction about my book, the producer said, We have to remember that half of these people will have never read or seen Shakespeare. I may be wrong, but I feel that is not something that would be said in the same situation in the
William Shakespeare is many things to many people. Your portrayal of him is both eccentric and fascinating. I found myself falling in love with him like Katherine did! How do you see this enigmatic genius?
AC: I see him as brilliant, extremely ambitious and fairly narcissistic. I see him as sexy and seductive. I see him as the type of person who is hard to ignore and who has an intrinsic need to dazzle, then to conquer and finally to feed on those who might be vulnerable to his charms. In their review, Kirkus Reviews said: “Shakespeare is, ultimately, a sort of emotional vampire. He requires adoration, and he uses women—many women—as raw material for his art. This is an audacious move, but Chapin makes it real, and the scenes in which Katharine defends Will to her doubting lady friends will ring true to any woman who has ever uttered the words, “You just don’t understand him!” I love the way the reviewer brought the dynamic from 1590 right into 2015. I wanted to convey a type that we all—or let’s say many of us—have fallen for and who in the end may break our hearts.
I love the witty and intelligent conversations about the art of poetry between William and Katherine. Were they as much fun to write as they are to read?
AC: I had so much fun with the conversations between William and Katharine, and to tell you the truth, most of the time I was shocked when they emerged and would ask myself, Where did that come from? They were some of the easiest parts of the book to write, so they come from deep within me. I was talking to a friend recently about this, and the only thing I could come up with is that I went to very top-notch schools from 9th grade on that had been all-male and had just accepted women, become co-ed, so maybe all of Katharine’s ability to express her wit and intelligence came from my not feeling that I could all those years with the male teachers and classes where I was often the only female. I didn’t even see it or mind it then, but in retrospect, I see why some women prefer all-women schools until they go to university.
You clearly know the works of Shakespeare through and through. How much background research did you do? Your love and appreciation of his words shine through this novel so you must have done a great deal. I find myself marvelling your use of 'quotes' of his well known (and even obscure) lines. Tell me about when and how your love for the poet, playwright - and the man himself began.
AC: When I was nine years old, my class at my local community school in
put on Macbeth. I was Lady Macbeth. We built a theatre-in-the-round in the
gymnasium, and we performed an edited version of the play. We loved it.
I’m an advocate of teaching Shakespeare to children—the earlier the
better! I had seen most of Shakespeare’s
plays by the time I started writing The
Tutor, but while writing it I immersed myself in his Sonnets—spent months
with different editors versions and notes spread out before me. I felt I needed to get under the poetry, deep
into it, to be able to have scenes where they spoke about it, and where
Katharine acted as his editor. It was daunting—I took one whole summer with the
Sonnets, much of those scenes landed on the cutting room floor, but I had to do
it, to attempt to understand and to create his writing process. And the same goes for his narrative poem Venus and Adonis, that racy, juicy, and
delicious poem that Katharine and Shakespeare work on together. I cut over two hundred pages from my first
draft—and in that first draft I had fallen in love with the verse, had gorged
on it, put much too much of it in the book.
Same goes for the other poets’ work in the book: Ovid, Sir Philip
Sidney, Edmund Spenser—I had pages and pages of their verse, but had to snip
most of it because it got in the way of the pace and the plot. New
I have read before that Shakespeare was a Roman Catholic. Have you come across 'In Search of Shakespeare,' by Michael Wood, a well-regarded
historian? What particular historian or Shakespearian scholar research
influenced your novel.
AC: James Shapiro’s excellent non-fiction book, 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare is what got me started on this journey. When I read about Shakespeare’s “lost years” in Shapiro’s book, I was immediately and obsessively drawn to the idea of how the mystery of what Shakespeare was up to during those years would be the perfect territory for a fiction writer. I did watch Michael Wood’s terrific ‘In Search of Shakespeare.” And I read books by other scholars and writers, including Jonathan Bate, Stephen Greenblatt, Charles Nichols, Peter Ackroyd, Rene Weis, two great short books by Bill Bryson and Frank Kermode, and Germaine Greer’s book, Shakespeare’s Wife. I found a worn paperback on a friend’s parents’ bookshelf that I love, Shakespeare of London by Marchette Chute, published in 1949.
Your next novel? Can you give us some insight into its subject matter.
AC: I can. My next novel is called Lord & Lady Strange—that glamorous, golden real-life couple, who glide in and out of The Tutor, are getting a whole novel for themselves and their three daughters. In 1590, their life seems near perfect, but just four years later all that comes crashing down, and I’m interested in that fall, and the mystery that still surrounds it today.
Thank you, Andrea. It was a pleasure to 'speak' to you. I wish The Tutor the success it deserves here in the UK. ( The Tutor is available now in paperback and e-book format in the UK, published by Penguin.