My Father Had A Daughter is a wonderfully inventive fictionalized memoir of Judith, William Shakespeare’s daughter.
Since they were young, Judith and her twin brother Hamnet, have been in awe of their father, who told them stories about fairy queens and the playhouses in London. Judith and Hamnet are inseparable, and have a world no one else understands (Hamnet and Judy playing A Midsummer Nights’ dream evoked memories of our 6th grade play in St. Scho)… But tragedy strikes as Hamnet accidentally drowns In a fantastic game Judith creates out of her wild imagination, and Judith is stricken with grief.
One day, Judith uncovers a new play in her father’s wastepapers — Twelfth Night, which to her horror uses her grief as a springboard for the plot. Enraged, Judith decides to storm off to London to sabotage her father’s play, under the guise of street urchin Castor Popworthy, and she rediscovers her theatrical self.
I liked this book because it was charming, and Judith Shakespeare seemed to really come to life. The earlier parts of the book, when Hamnet was still alive, reminds me of The Thirteenth Tale and its concept of “twin-ness,” and how a twin is never the same once “untwinned.”
The highlight of the novel is when the spunky Judith becomes a girl acting as a boy acting as a girl right under her father’s nose — The whole London adventure was hilarious!
It’s also great how Judith’s relationship with her parents evolved, how she gained respect and affection for her mother, and how her relationship with her father evolved from hero worship, to disillusion, to finally, an understanding of her father’s character.
My copy: a well-worn trade paperback bought at Book Sale (P70)
My rating: 4/5 stars
photo courtesy of Barnes and Noble (http://images.barnesandnoble.com/images/18690000/18696089.JPG)