Authors: William Martin
|Peter Fallon |
Picking up where his runaway bestseller "Back Bay" left off, William Martin returns to Boston, this time bringing the history of Harvard University vibrantly to life.
Martin, who introduced antiquarian Peter Fallon in his debut novel Back Bay (1979), brings him back for a second quest in this sprawling bibliomystery, which traces the tightly interlaced histories of the fictional Wedge family and Harvard University. Fallon, a proud Harvard grad, assists in the university's annual fund-raising appeals. One call, to Ridley Wedge Royce, lands him not a donation but a tip. The intriguing possibility that the Wedge family once owned a rare and unknown Shakespeare manuscript-a text purportedly linking Will Shakespeare and Harvard's founder-is enough to hook Fallon. But others are on the same scent and willing to go to any lengths to root out the manuscript if it still exists. How it came into the possession of the Wedges, and what happened to it next is gradually revealed as Martin spins through 300 years of American history-from the Salem witch trials and the Boston Tea Party to the Civil War and up to the radical late 1960s-telling a tale of Harvard the institution growing from a tiny establishment under beastly first master Nathaniel Eaton to become America's premier university. Fallon's search takes a back seat to the historical material, but the novel provides good entertainment and copious Crimson lore.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Martin continues to entertain with the successful formula he perfected in best-sellers
The author races back and forth through time in order to solve a bookish mystery rooted in historical events. When antiquarian bookseller Peter Fallon follows the clues he hopes will lead him to recover a lost Shakespeare play written in the bard's own hand, he himself becomes the target of both underworld thugs and unscrupulous academics. The most compelling action takes place in the past as he traces the utterly fascinating evolution of Harvard University by interweaving it with the intimate history of one of New England's first families. Bound by oath to preserve John Harvard's library, Issac Wedge takes care to squirrel away the Shakespearean quarto the dying Harvard entrusted to his care. Realizing that Puritan reactionaries would most certainly destroy the play, Wedge hands it down for safekeeping to his own son, establishing a pattern that is repeated by each succeeding generation until it appears that the manuscript has been lost. Or has it? It is up to Fallon to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. The unexpected twists and turns through history will keep readers guessing and the pages turning.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
This book is a work of historical fiction. In order to give a sense of the times, some names or real people or places have been included in the book. However, the events depicted in this book are imaginary, and the names of nonhistorical persons or events are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance of such nonhistorical persons or events to actual ones is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2003 by William Martin
All rights reserved.
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First eBook Edition: October 2003
The Rising of the Moon
in memory of
The oldest trees give the best shade.
I can remember thinking, in my last semester at Harvard, back in 1972, that just as I was beginning to figure the place out, they were showing me the door.
I returned to Harvard, in more ways than one, to write this book and continue the process of figuring out an institution of modern complexity built upon a foundation of ancient tradition. Many people were willing to help me bring form to the contours of Harvard history, accuracy to the details of Harvard life, and insight into the workings of Harvard itself.
My thanks to Scott Abell, former President of the Harvard Alumni Association; Michelle Blanc, also of the Alumni Association; Lisa Boudreau, Director of Development and Corporate Relations; Beth Brainerd, Director of Communications at the Harvard libraries; Charles Collier, Senior Philanthropic Advisor; Reverend Peter Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals, whose Religion 1513 explores the breadth of Harvard history; Sandra Grindlay, Curator of the Harvard Portrait Collection; Scott Haywood, Superintendent of Kirkland House; Leslie Morris, Curator of Manuscripts at Houghton Library; Terry Shaller of the Alumni Association; Stephen Shoemaker, instructor in Religion 1513; Deborah Smullyan of
magazine; and my son Dan and his friends in the Class of 2004, who gave me a few glimpses of undergraduate life.
Thanks also to Linda Ayres, James Banfield, David Case, Gary Goshgarian, Christopher Keane, Lois Kessin, William Kuntz, and John Spooner.
Special thanks to Peter Drummey, Librarian of the Massachusetts Historical Society, for his enthusiastic assistance with every question and research problem; to Conrad Wright, classmate and Director of Publications at the Massachusetts Historical Society, who first suggested that I explore the relationship between Shakespeare and the Harvard family; and to antiquarian Martin Weinkle, for his willingness to share his insights into the world of rare books.
Thanks to my editors, Jamie Raab and John Aherne; and to all my friends at Warner Books, who have been publishing me for fifteen years, including Larry Kirshbaum, Maureen Egen, and Harvey-Jane Kowal; to Wendell Minor, whose cover art has graced so many of my books; and to my agent, Robert Gottlieb.
And as always, thanks to my wife and all my children, who continue to serve as research assistants, proofreaders, opinion-givers, and general inspirations.
went often to Stratford-on-Avon, but never before had he gone with such trepidation. Never before had the sight of the tower at Guild Chapel turned his stomach to jelly, nor the sound of his horse’s hooves upon Clopton Bridge given him such cause to turn and ride the whole eighty miles back to London.
Ordinarily, he went to buy cattle, for he owned a butcher shop, and the farmers of Warwickshire raised the fattest cattle in England, and a butcher without cattle was like a tailor without cloth. But on this August afternoon, Robert Harvard went to seek a wife, for he was also a man, and a man without a wife was like a butcher without cattle, or a tailor without cloth, or a playwright without a stage. . . .
And that, he thought, was a string of metaphors to charm the birds from the trees. . . . Or were they similes?
No matter. Will would know. Will would calm him, too, and give him the confidence to court a young woman as beautiful as Katherine Rogers. Of that he was certain. So, once across the river, Robert Harvard made for the rambling big house known as New Place. Will would tell him which of his words would work best. Will would also tell him the difference ’twixt a metaphor and a simile.
“‘A butcher without cattle’?” cried Will Shakespeare. “You call that an image of love? You call that poetry? Or ‘a tailor without cloth’?”
“Well . . . what of ‘a playwright without a stage’?” asked Harvard in his strong Southwark accent.
“You court a wife, man, not a cutler. Sharpen your wit with soft words.”
“Soft words? Words like . . . like
” said Will. “Featherbeds
soft. Pudding is soft. The dung that manures my roses is soft. But we speak here of a woman’s heart.”
Shakespeare was forty-one and far heavier than when first he appeared in Harvard’s butcher shop some fifteen years before, a young man come to London hungry for fame but hungrier still for sausage or beef suet or even a marrow bone to fill his belly. Now, his face had filled and his belly had settled, as happened with most men whose purses had filled and whose lives had settled. But when he moved, Will Shakespeare was ever the actor, shaping each gesture and step to the role he played. And the role of the moment was poet.
He pushed open the windows of the great room and gazed out at his roses. He did not ruminate or pace upon the polished stone floor. His poetry came quickly. He gazed, he thought, and he said, “’Tis a beautiful day, Rob.”
“Aye.” Rob clasped his hands behind his back, then folded them in front of himself, then rested one on the hilt of his dagger and the other on his belt. Though he owned property in London, served as a warden in his church, and could afford to dress for courtship in a fine crimson doublet of crushed velvet, he still had the hands of a tradesman—big and coarse and never at ease unless holding a tool.