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The Onion Stone
The Onion Stone (Paperback)
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Fiction & PoetryModern & contemporary fiction post c 1945 Publisher: Pewter Rose Press Publication Date: 11/10/2011 ISBN-13: 9781908136015  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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More books by Mandy Pannett

Customer Reviews

Conflict and conspiracy in the academic world; a multi-layered tale of mystery and intrigue, claim and counter claim, infidelity and loyalty, thwarted hopes and lost dreams, complex and flawed characters spanning centuries and connected by a claim from Henry Shakspeare that he is a descendant of Gilbert Shakespeare. The Onion Stone is a compelling jigsaw of character conflict with Frances, her husband Ardie, and Ellis in a love triangle to mirror the historical ménage a trios of Anne Cecil, her husband the Earl of Oxford, and Gilbert Shakespeare. Ardie and Ellis are childhood friends whose friendship later turns into rivalry in the academic world, particularly over the question of the identity of Shakespeare, and in their love of one woman - Frances. For Ellis "the very thought of [Ardie and Frances] hurt like splinters." Ellis has become a slightly reclusive, almost a Morse-like character, self-contained, obsessed with work but still yearning for a lost love, "a girl with rain in her hair". Ardie's charismatic youth has collapsed into a compulsive preoccupation over his rivalry with Ellis. Between the two men, Frances struggles to find her own recognition that has been so long subordinate to her husband Ardie's career. The characters of Ardie, Frances and Ellis are believable and engaging to the point where it felt like they needed told off and that more than one of them was in need of a shake - especially Ardie. The language of the Shakespearean extracts is poetical and lyrical as well as very accessible to the modern reader. The Earl of Oxford comes across as a selfish, thoughtless, ruthless character, but a man of his time nonetheless. There is tenderness and love between Anne Cecil and Gilbert Shakespeare but we must guess at whether this is friendship or something more. The cruelty and brutality of the times is apparent where women are pawns in marriage and life is lived precariously. The inter-woven intrigue between past and present is excellent and gives depth to the story. There are some tantalizing questions in both storylines. Such as who was the father of Frances's child and why did she need to find a father and a husband...? Did Anne Cecil have a child by Gilbert Shakespeare? Why did Frances marry Ardie and why did she stay married to him when he seemed to be so very self-obsessed, unfeeling and almost oblivious to anything Frances was doing or thinking or feeling - a mirror of the Elizabethan storyline of Anne Cecil and her marriage to the Earl of Oxford. Most importantly, who is the real Shakespeare? Although aspects of The Onion Stone are open-ended, the unanswered questions leave the reader thinking about the book long after they have finished reading it, which leads me to hope that a sequel will soon be on its way. These characters are crying out to be heard further.

- 01/12/2011
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