Christine’s Review of The Cottage by Alan K. Austin

I love Shakespeare.  And like any red-blooded American, I love a good conspiracy theory.  Conspiracy theories are the backbone of this country.  Since I am not only an American, but also a lover of English literature, I love conspiracy theories about who was the “true” author of Shakespeare’s plays.  So when I was offered The Cottage to read and review, I thought it was a perfect match.

The Cottage is a mystery novel that revolves around Jack Duncan, a documentary filmmaker, who is trying to get to the bottom of the Shakespeare conspiracy whilst also trying to solve the mystery of what happened to his missing fiancée. If that sounds a bit odd and like it doesn’t tie in together–it’s because it doesn’t. The mystery and plots of The Cottage are so disjointed and confusing, that I honestly don’t know how to write a decent summary of this book. So I’ll just give you the official summary.

Filmmaker Jack Duncan knows almost nothing about Terri Osborne, but is so entranced by her that he proposes, and, to his surprise, she accepts. Celebrating in an Omaha restaurant known as a hangout for actors, Duncan is distracted by a stranger who tries to interest him in filming a story about a mystery hundreds of years old. While his back is turned, Terri vanishes—from both the present and, it seems, from the past, as though she had existed for only a few months.

Duncan eventually summons police for help in finding Terri, but then realizes that he is their main suspect in her disappearance. As his arrest seems imminent he is sent to England to oversee a filmed quest for the “real” Shakespeare. But Duncan’s “escape” to England is not so lucky after all. The Keepers of the Shakespeare Myth have some nasty surprises waiting for him. And the pleasant old literary mystery leads him straight into a timeless nightmare in which no one can be trusted and he himself may be the villain.

The investigation in Nebraska becomes inexplicably intertwined with the mysteries in England and a race ensues to determine who will be lucky enough to destroy Jack Duncan and bury the truth about Shakespeare for good.

I was so confused by the end of this book that I honestly didn’t know how to approach this review. So I’m just going to give it you straight. The characters are one-dimensional.  The plot and subplots make little to no sense.  Towards the end of the book, we are introduced to even more plot with regards to Jack Duncan’s life and his missing fiancée and we leave the Shakespeare conspiracy behind entirely.  It came out of left field and left me yelling “WHAT?!” at my copy of the book.  In the end, it just made me want to watch Shakespeare and read conspiracy theories on Wikipedia, which I did.  For what it’s worth, Christopher Plummer in The Tempest is wonderful and I still subscribe to the “Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare” theory. I recommend forgetting about the question of authorship and enjoying a night at your local community’s summer production of a Shakespeare play. Trust me, they are everywhere and they are more enjoyable than The Cottage.

1 out of 5 stars

The Cottage by Alan K. Austin
iUniverse (2011)
Paperback: 224 pages
ISBN: 9781462068692

Special thanks to Sandy from Author Solutions for sending me my review copy!

The May Round-Up!

I’m so sorry for the delay in posts recently, life has been filled with non-stop traveling for weddings, bachelorette parties, graduations, communions, etc.  To say that life has been hectic recently is a severe understatement!

May was kicked off with celebrating my young cousin Daniel’s graduation as well as my cousin Lily’s 75th birthday.  2012 has been a year filled with lots of family celebrations which makes me really happy.  Over the past few years the older generation of my family has been unfortunately been passing away.  Being able to get together to celebrate so many positive events has been a really good thing to help the family heal!

My sister and her awesome PhD get-up

The following weekend of May was spent in Pennsylvania, celebrating the marriage of one of Todd’s best childhood friends.  The wedding was held near Bethlehem, PA at the Blue Mountain Ski resort.  It was an absolutely beautiful location, surrounded by nature.  The weather was beautiful and it was so nice seeing all of Todd’s friends for a whole weekend.  We all live fairly far apart, so a whole weekend in each other’s company unhindered is a rarity.  We had to leave PA early Sunday morning and made our way to NYC for Mother’s Day and for my sister’s PhD convocation.  We made it just in time and headed into the city, hopped on the subway, and headed towards Columbia for the ceremony.  My sister had an awesome PhD get-up (see right) complete with crazy hat and cape.  So so proud of her.  Todd and I were thrilled that we made it on time and were able to see it.  Her smartness knows no bounds.

Pool side view!

The following weekend Todd and I headed back to PA to see my sister-in-law Ellen’s undergraduate graduation from Lehigh.  Unfortunately it rained for most of the ceremony, but we made the best of it!  We headed out for a wonderful tapas dinner to celebrate and drank some of the best blood orange sangria I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. (YUM)

Throw in a bunch of Relay for Life meetings during the month and we’re up to Memorial Day Weekend.  The weekend of my sister’s bachelorette party in Miami!  I flew down all by myself (for the first time ever!) taking two flights down from Connecticut.  I finally made it to our hotel the Eden Roc Renaissance, and proceeded to get my drink on.  Turns out that Memorial Day weekend in Miami is Urban Beach Week, making my pale white skin that much more awkward.  There were pimped out Cadillacs everywhere with insane lift kits; I was definitely impressed.  My sister even witnessed a man “ghost riding the whip” down the street on one leg. (The man physically had one leg and hopped around the car)  Lots of poolside drinks and sun led to a nice relaxing weekend.  All the time I spent on planes led me to finish The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley.

Knowing how behind I was on posting reviews this month I tried to slow my reading roll down.  I successfully completed 11 books for the month of May, my favorite being the aforementioned The Orchid House!  Closing out May I’m completed 83 books for the year, or 75% of my total goal of 110.  I’m super pumped!  I read a variety of books last month: historical fiction, paranormal, novellas, and romances.  June is shaping up to be jam-packed month as well.  We’re participating in Armchair BEA as well as two historical fiction book tours!  Christine, Jess, Todd, Adam, and Charlie are all working on some fun things for the month as well!  Todd is finishing up reading A Million Suns which he will be jointly reviewing with me, Christine is reading The Cottage by Alan Austin, Adam’s working on Part II of Deal With The Devil (his review of part I is here), and Charlie’s working on the first book in the Lost Princess series Blood Sword.  June should be a pretty versatile and fun month for reviews.  Hope you’ll stick around and join in on the reading fun!

As always…..happy reading!!