reviews: No Holds Bard

Historical Novel Society: review by Kristen McQuinn

Excerpt and conclusion: … a delightful collection of Shakespeare tales, revised and revisited for a modern audience and with an LGBT focus. …

For me, the highlights were Julie Bozza’s “In Fair Verona,” a version of Romeo and Juliet focusing on the ghost of Mercutio influencing Lord Byron; Siobhan Dunlop’s “Imitate the Sun,” about a modern London-based troupe of all-women Shakespearean actors preparing to perform Henry IV and their behind-the-scenes dramas and insecurities; Michelle Peart’s “Lost,” [Julie Bozza’s “In a Dark House”] a continuation of Twelfth Night in the form of a conversation, mostly, between Feste and Malvolio; and Adam Fitzroy’s “Now You See Him, Now You Don’t,” a retelling of Macbeth as a modern murder case.

Each entry in the anthology deals with some aspect that is important within the LGBTQ+ community and highlights it in a way that makes it relevant to all readers. This is a terrific approach, since everyone needs more insight, understanding, and empathy into all facets of life, not just what we are familiar with already. Literature such as No Holds Bard does exactly that, while also taking an irreverent approach to the Bard himself in the process. I think Shakespeare would have approved! Definitely recommended.

No Holds Bard on Goodreads

  • Rohase Piercy gave it 4 stars and said: Well, this was fun! Such a variety of approaches to putting an LGBTQ twist on Shakespeare’s works, with twelve stories from eleven different authors. I enjoyed all of them, but I’ll tell you my four favourites: Erin Horakova’s ‘Couched In A Curious Bed’ gives us a new slant on Richard of York’s ‘difference’ and a novel ending to the Wars of the Roses in Henry VI; Julie Bozza’s ‘In Fair Verona’ features a romantic encounter between Lord Byron to Romeo & Juliet’s Mercutio – no mean feat across two centuries! Bryn Hammond gives us an ageing Shakespeare collaborating on his last play, ‘Two Noble Kinsmen’ and pouring out his heart to his character Princess Emilia as he struggles to give voice both to her sexuality and that of her two suitors in a way that will avoid the controversy caused by publication of his Sonnets; and my personal favourite is Jay Lewis Taylor’s very clever ‘After the Storm’, in which the characters from The Tempest are transported to Wales and given an alternative but parallel story narrated from the point of view of poor captive Ariel. This anthology has made me want to open my long-neglected Complete Works of Shakespeare for the first time in years – which I hope is a tribute in itself.
  • Bellbomb Bellbomb gave it 5 stars and said: … my initial decision to buy the book was because I’m an avid fan of some of the authors included in this anthology (Julie Bozza and Adam Fitzroy) and I just couldn’t get enough of their writing, and because this was from Manifold Press which you can’t go wrong with any of their publications. I’m glad I’ve found many new gems in this anthology whom I will be looking out for more of their full length novels in the future. This is one of those rare anthologies which I believe I’ll pick up to reread many times.

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