one knows for sure precisely when and where Shakespeare wrote his sonnets or, more intriguingly, who he wrote them for. This wonderfully entertaining novel imagines the circumstances that inspired 30 of the Bard's most popular sonnets. The young Will Shakespeare is living under the patronage of Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. The controversial earl is under pressure from his family and those close to the royal court to settle down but he is far too busy drinking, carousing, and cavorting with his motley band of acquaintances to pay attention. Not then the obvious setting for poetic genius but within the politics (both state and sexual) of this lofty household Will finds lots to inspire his pen, and a few attractive distractions too. With 30 sonnets interwoven into the text in seamless fashion, this clever tale crafted from fragments of history wears its scholarship lightly and its love of Shakespeare and poetry proudly.