Reviews

The Postman Poet

“The author is well-versed in the social history of the period such as the factory acts, poor laws and the working-class dread of the workhouse. Although she is no polemicist, she clearly shows how with access to education and healthcare, life would be more equitable. Combining fiction, social history, and biography, The Postman Poet is an engaging and entertaining read that both brings a lump to one’s throat and joy to the heart. Highly recommended.”

Historical Novel Review. November 2017.

All Around the Year

“Sincere, emotional, touching; just three words that describe the stories in this book by Devon author Liz Shakespeare.

It is a treasure box full of short stories. Believable characters and the situations of everyday life which affect them are written in a moving and heart-warming way. The main characters face loss of loved ones, new beginnings and reunions.”

– Devon Life. September 2013.

“Liz Shakespeare certainly knows her subject. Her first published collection of short stories, All Around The Year, is a tribute to North Devon and to the people who live here.”

Western Morning News. 23/11/2013

“I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of 12 short stories set in Devon. I particularly enjoy Liz’s fiction because though based locally, it appeals to the broader human condition. My 12 year old grandson read and enjoyed several of the stories which shows their appeal to all ages. I was sorry to finish the collection. Please write some more Liz!”

Bideford Buzz. September 2013.

“Liz Shakespeare’s latest book is a collection of charming and compelling short stories rooted in the Devon landscape … The cover, designed by Liz’s son, Ben, provides a tantalising glimpse of what lies inside.”

– Exmoor Magazine. Winter 2013.

 

The Turning of the Tide

“As would be expected of someone with Liz’s track record, the historical research is meticulous.”

– Western Morning News. September 2010.

“Liz Shakespeare understands the period commencing in 1871 perfectly well, describing the deprivation the Union Workhouse as though she had suffered it herself.”

– Devon Family Historian. November 2010.

“Employing a mixture of newspaper articles, letters and census returns, Shakespeare creates a well-crafted story about real people in real times, which engages the reader from the very first page.

A clever combination of fact and fiction, this book both illuminates and entertains – and extremely gripping read for anyone interested in family or social history.”

– Family History Monthly. March 2011.

“Novelisations of family history are a growing genre but often only appeal to family members. Liz Shakespeare’s The Turning of the Tide stands above the crowd for being an engaging read without losing its genealogical roots, perhaps aided by the subject, Selina Burman, not being a relative. Burman is a child of the Devon workhouse whose fortunes are lifted by social reformer Dr. Ackland. But her growing sense of identity threatens to ruin both her own future and his.

The well-told tale is interspersed with images of real documents that underpin the narrative, and the author’s website lists family names that appear in the book.”

– Your Family Tree. February 2011.

“The Turning of the Tide by Liz Shakespeare is an immensely engaging story that captures the reader from the first page … In a unique and fascinating twist, Shakespeare smoothly inserts primary source documents within the text as the novel is based on historical figures from Bideford and Clovelly. Shakespeare provides a fascinating glimpse of life in 1871 Devon, England. She paints thorough portraits of the landscape as well as of the social community.

No detail is left out, from examining social health, the class system, and attitudes of the time. Even more importantly, she writes a beautiful story of Selina’s strength and courage that holds the reader until the end.”

– Sheila R Lamb. Historical Novel Review. October 2010.

 

Fever – A Story from a Devon Churchyard

“Fever is a good read, well-researched and dramatised with sensitivity. Liz Shakespeare has done a valuable service to history by compiling these facts to present a snapshot of Westcountry life in the latter nineteenth century.”

– Western Morning News. December 2005.

“What makes [Fever] so fascinating and so unique is its structure. Liz alternates the chapters of factual information from her research with chapters of fictional, imaginative reconstruction, bringing these poor families back to life, making them real people full of tumultuous emotions, rather than just allowing them to become simply another dusty old statistic.”

– North Devon Journal. December 2005.

“A mixture of social history, research and imagination produces this sympathetic portrait of a community struggling to survive in harsh conditions … this book is a valuable reminder of how hard life used to be.”

– Devon Life. December 2005.

“[Fever] is a fascinating and moving book which combines research and imaginative reconstruction to bring the nineteenth century village back to life. There are fascinating glimpses of the village schoolroom; of a young girl making gloves by candlelight to help her family survive; and of the deaf and blind coal-carrier who achieved fame but spent his last years in the workhouse.”

– Torrington Crier. December 2005/January 2006.

“Personally this book gave me a great deal of pleasure to read. Liz Shakespeare has carried out her research very thoroughly … The cover is excellent and unusually gives a real insight into the heart of the book.”

– Devon Family Historian. February 2006.

“The author produces powerful and believable images through the use of vocabulary and setting which transport the reader to time and place … This is a fascinating book that deserves wider readership than I fear it will have. Well written and nicely produced, and a snip at the price to boot!”

– Readers’ Review. Spring 2006.

 

The Memory Be Green – An Oral History of a Devon Village

The Memory Be Green is a delightful insight into village life which will ring true in villages countrywide. It is not merely a cosmetic exercise, but digs beneath the surface of the agricultural community to reveal harsher realities of country living in days gone by and to address the thorny issue of a new generation of villagers with modern values  and roots spreads far and wide.’

North Devon Gazette 27/12/1990

‘Here, in some 110 wonderfully written pages, are her findings – and what fascinating stories she has found. People with modern ‘romantic’ views of pre-war rural life should read this book to obtain an insight into the reality of the experience. Events of great importance to the life of the village are lovingly described – the killing of the family pig, the role of the cattle drovers and their “wonderfully well-trained dogs”, the communal efforts to get the harvest in, the village school and fondly-remembered childhood mischief.’

Peter Christie. Western Morning News. 29/12/90

‘As generations die out and people’s memories are lost to posterity, books like this with their invaluable eye-witness versions of village life in quieter and more sedate though more punishing times, form an important part of out literary heritage.’

North Devon Journal 7/11/1991

‘It is a fine example of the value of oral testimony and how it can unlock memories stored away and ensure that the lives of ordinary people are not forgotten.’

Oral History. Spring 1992

The Memory Be Green taps the memories of the older inhabitants and comes up with a rich harvest that, because of the wealth of detail, makes fascinating reading.’

Express and Echo 1/3/1991