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Romantic,
Informative,
Adventurous

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The Gentleman Poet: A Novel of Love, Danger, and Shakespeare's The Tempest
by Kathryn Johnson

Published: 2010-09-07
Paperback : 336 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 2 members

En route to the Americas in 1609, Elizabeth Persons, a young servant girl, sees her blinding headache as an ominous sign. Sure enough, a hurricane during the final leg of their journey tosses the ill-fated Sea Venture and its one hundred and fifty passengers and crew onto the dreaded ...

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Introduction

En route to the Americas in 1609, Elizabeth Persons, a young servant girl, sees her blinding headache as an ominous sign. Sure enough, a hurricane during the final leg of their journey tosses the ill-fated Sea Venture and its one hundred and fifty passengers and crew onto the dreaded shores of the Bermudas, the rumored home of evil spirits and dangerous natives. In the months that pass—time marked by grave hardship, mutiny, adventure, danger . . . and a blossoming love between Elizabeth and the wrecked ship's young cook—she despairs of their ever being rescued. But she finds hope and strength in a remarkable new friendship, forming a fast bond with the Sea Venture's historian, a poet traveling under the name of William Strachey. But Will is more than he seems. To many back home in England, he is known by a different name: Shakespeare. And he sees in their great shared travails the makings of a magical, truly transcendent work of theater.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

The Gentleman Poet: A Novel of Love, Danger,
and Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”
by Kathryn Johnson

Methoughts I saw a thousand fearful wracks;
A thousand men that fishes gnawed upon.
Richard III

1
Elizabeth—July 24, 1609
A storm was coming. For weeks since our departure from Plymouthe, I had been blessedly free of the seasickness that plagued others aboard our ship. Then one cloudless, azure-skied morning as the gentlest of zephyrs billowed our white sails, Demons took possession of my poor head and I began to fear the worst, for here in the middle of the vast Atlantic Ocean we were at the mercy of the elements. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

From the author:

1) What was the intended destination of the Sea Venture, and why didn’t the ship reach it?
2) Can you speculate as to the medical cause of Elizabeth Person’s headaches?
3) What evidence do we see in the story that William Strachey isn’t who he claims to be?
4) What events in the story, which occur in particular during the late 16th and early 17th century, led to the loss of Elizabeth’s family? (Hint: One involves religion; another has to do with disease.)
5) Several members of the original 150 people on board the ship never made it to Jamestown. Why?
6) What talent does Elizabeth/Miranda discover that she possesses, and how does she use it to help others and, ultimately, build for herself a new life?
7) Can you think of alternate endings for this novel?
8) After reading this novel, do you think you might enjoy reading Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, or perhaps like to see the play performed?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Note from the author:

I’ve always felt just a little cheated. Somehow I graduated from college with a degree (History/English) without learning much at all about one of the greatest writers of all time—William Shakespeare! I decided to do something about this. I gave myself an assignment. By researching and writing a novel that involved Shakespeare in an interesting and creative way, I would buy myself time to read his plays and books about him. That’s how The Gentleman Poet came to be.

If anyone ever tells you that the great thing about fiction is…you can write stories without needing to do research, you have my permission to laugh and walk away. (Any more violent response is up to you!) It took me four years to research and write this novel. If I’d allowed myself the luxury of unlimited time to delve into the wonderful collections at the Folger Shakespeare Library, or perhaps jet off to London and Stratford-upon-Avon to further familiarize myself with Will’s haunts, I might still be working on this book today. But the fact is, I wanted to share it with others—with you—so I got down to the writing. And here it is! Enjoy.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "The Gentlemen Poet A Novel of Love, Danger and Shakespeare's the Tempest"by maureenmorisano (see profile) 02/20/11

A sweet, enjoyable story of a young woman beginning a life in a new land. Set in Bermuda in the early 1600s, the author weaves a tale based upon the shipwreck of the Venture and the first ... (read more)

 
  "The Gentleman Poet"by retiredreader (see profile) 01/21/11

This book is a fun read. It keeps the reader's interest with its believable characters placed in adventurous and romantic situations.

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