In this “prequel” to Shakespere’s Hamlet, poetry student Horatio develops a crush on the Prince of Denmark, Hamlet. At the same time, he is asked to translate a play by Baron de Maricourt and his wife, Lady Adriane. While he spends as much time as possible getting to know (and falling in love with) Hamlet, he simultaneously becomes involved with Lady Adriane. Soon a new student by the name of Will Shake-spear begins to come between Horatio and his lovers – also getting romantically involved with both Hamlet and Adriane. Horatio becomes obsessed with keeping both of his lovers for himself and getting this Shake-spear character out of their lives.
Let me begin this review as honestly as possible: I truly did not enjoy this book. There were several factors that contributed to my dislike, so I’m just going to explain as best as possible why I felt the way I did about the novel.
I’ll start by saying that the relationships in the book didn’t make a lot of sense to me. I actually liked reading about the blossoming love between Horatio and Hamlet; it started out very sweet and although the writing about their coupling was rather explicit that didn’t bother me at all. What did bother me was all of the (in my opinion) unnecessary sex. I didn’t understand why Horatio and Adriane got together, so reading about their romance wasn’t fun for me, and when Shake-spear was introduced I just felt like everyone was having sex with everyone else and it took all the fun out of the romance aspect for me. I’m no prude, but there was just too much sex for me, and for no good reason.
Also, I would have been better off having read this novel with more knowledge of Shakespeare than I had. There were just SO many references to his plays and I think 90% of them went right over my head. Which is definitely more my fault than the author’s, but still – it hampered my enjoyment of the novel. The third problem I had with the book, and this is probably a result of my first two issues with it, is that I couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters or what happened to them. I need to have some semblance of feeling towards the characters in a book to really enjoy it and in this case I just felt nothing for them. Again, my connection to a book (or lack thereof) is not necessarily the fault of the book itself, but in this case it really meant the book just did not work for me.
So much of what I did not like about The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet is related to my own personality, so I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading the book. It has gotten great reviews on Amazon so please don’t trust just my opinion. If you are a Shakespeare fan, try it out for yourself! And let me know what you think.