Archive for January 2022


If I were an English teacher conducting a writing course, I’d assign this book as an example of exquisite writing. Often when reading a novel I’ll skim over the descriptive parts to get to the essence of the story, but here I couldn’t help lingering on the way as I was drawn into seeing, feeling, and hearing the historical time and place. I’d also ask for an analysis of the purpose and accomplishment of the story and I’d look for the answer that the author has drawn me into the time period as if I were living it. I liked “seeing” the streets and the homes of Stratford in that period. I’d also note its relationship to our own pandemic time. And certainly there’d be room for a student paper on the gender biases of the period.

I’d ask for an opinion on the believability of the story. Here I’d be aware that I’d just recently skimmed my way through a tome on the life and works of Shakespeare so I liked the way the author made a sensible story of some of the major questions – most especially why he married Anne (Agnes) and why he was almost never home with her and the children. I liked the way his talent appeared to emerge from him as if he were surprised to find it. Overall I’d be satisfied with her construction of the creatively imagined life.

But I’m not an English teacher, so I’ll fall back on my own experience of teaching psychology. I wouldn’t be assigning the book, but I’d be finding the character development especially interesting when it came to Agnes and Hamnet, primarily in the influence of beliefs of the time. Not the deepest of character developments, but sufficient to the purpose of the story.

I loved this book and gave it to my daughter with the encouragement to read it. Wouldn’t it be neat if we could have posted our reviews next to each other? Oh well, we can’t have it all, and besides, she hasn’t finished it yet.



Posted January 13, 2022 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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I wish I had written this review right after reading the book. Unfortunately I finished it in the height of holiday activities so I’m afraid my words won’t be as rich as her writing deserves. I wish everyone could know what the author knows, and what the reader knows after devouring the book. I can’t think of a better exposition of the tragedy of being targeted by irrational hate. Or a more fitting addition to the positive signs of research and writing recognizing the reality of the power of community. About community: the one I married into is so different from the Sikh community, and yet so similar — the positive aspects of love, belonging, ethical guidance, and cooperative behavior standards, balanced by the demands of role expectations, gender biases, hierarchical and often shaming group control. I’m sure there are myriad ethnic communities who can identify with this portrayal Yes, this is a gripping story by a strong and honest woman. More than that, it is a lesson for our time.


I don’t want to leave this review without mentioning the generous, loving, strong, dedicated, and giving ethic represented by the male headdress that leads so many haters to perceive Sikh men as different and therefore the enemy. I did have the eye-opening experience of visiting a Sikh temple in India where meals were served freely to everyone who simply came and received. All were welcome. Thy “saw no stranger.” From the wealthiest to the poorest, from the most significant to the least important. No one asked. One was just welcomed to take a seat cross-legged in the hall and dine. I hope this book is one step closer to making a broad reality of such community and love.


And besides, it’s a page-turning read.

Posted January 12, 2022 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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