I blogged about The Shakespeare Chronicles when it first came out. It's the story of a Professor Quandary, a meek little man who happens to trip upon the discovery of all time, the true author of Shakespeare's works. "Eh," I thought, "I'll pick it up, just to see if there's any new theories that might be interesting."
Well, within the first few dozen pages I was ready to put it down and call it a day. No real surprise - it's Edward de Vere. He doesn't pick somebody that we've never heard of. It's something of a disappointment, and I definitely moved through some pages at the beginning saying, "That's it? Surely there has to be more than that. It's hardly like the de Vere theory is revolutionary."
Ah, but see, here's the twist. Dear Professor Quandary is nuts. As in, a bonafide paranoid schizophrenic. He speaks of himself in the third person, often referring to the Changes as an always capitalized event in his life that caused his true self to shine through. There's one point in the middle that I won't spoil where I literally had to pause and say "Wait a second, he just did what?? That's ... well, crazy."
It is this "altered" Quandary who goes off on the path of discovery. Think about that. A paranoid schizophrenic who finds himself on the path of one of the great all time conspiracy theories. And he thinks he's solved it. It actually becomes quite fascinating to read the progression as the story becomes less about Shakespeare and more about how his insanity progresses, all in the name of Shakespeare. He sees evidence of his theory quite literally everywhere. Everything you've ever heard all fits nicely into place. The sonnets in particular are quoted heavily as keys to the puzzle. Yes, there are new theories, it's not just "deVere wrote them, that's that." But as they're revealed, you realize they're being revealed by a nutcase. So...does that mean that they're incorrect? Even if they make sense?
So overall, I'm quite pleased. Not quite finished yet, on about 160 out of 200 pages, and it's dragging a bit. But unlike the beginning where I was ready to give up on it, he's now got my trust enough that something fascinating still has plenty of time to happen, and I'm anxious to see it through to the end.