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Shakespeare's Counselor (2005)

Shakespeare's Counselor (2005)

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3.89 of 5 Votes: 4
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0425201147 (ISBN13: 9780425201145)

About book Shakespeare's Counselor (2005)

"Shakespeare's Counselor" is the final book in the Lily Bard series. I was surprised to find that I took great pleasure in this series. In some ways it is one long novel, charting Lily's journey from isolated, insomniac, night-walker, to a woman with a life that she has built through her strength, her integrity and finally by being courageous enough to allow herself to have something to lose.The final book thankfully doesn't go down the path of unlikely happy endings. Bad things happen to Lily in this book and, at the end of it, she still has significant problems, but the book delivers credible growth for her and the people around her.One of the ways this growth is achieved is that Lily enters therapy, with the Counselor of the title, to try to end the nightmares that rule her sleep. I was surprised at this. I'm not a fan of therapy. I'm with Willy Russel in changing Pschotherapist into Psycho The Rapist. I've never been convinced that the response to trauma should be a platitude-driven talking-tour of the route back to normalcy. I very much doubt that, after a significant trauma, normal is an option.I was pleased to see that the therapy in the book worked less because of the skill of the counselor, than because the rape survivors in the group were willing to extend their trust and support to each other. There are some hard-to-take tales in therapy sessions. Sadly, none of them are difficult to believe. I was impressed that, even in therapy, Lily did not change her view that people are not naturally good and safety can only be obtained through vigilance and strength. Her counselor found the view bleak and wondered how Lily could live with it. I see it as a reasonable, fact-based conclusion, that provides a foundation for good choices.The plot of "Shakespeare's Counselor" is a little complex, requiring some suspension of disbelief as the bad guys are not exactly run of the mill. The action is occasionally violent and brutal. The events in Lily's personal life add grief to an already tough situation and challenge Lily's definition of herself and her future.By the end of the series, Lily has moved from loner cleaner, to an apprentice private detective with a husband and friends in a community that she now feels part of. Yet this is not a "Hallmark" sugar-sweet transformation. This book, even more than the rest of the series, is raised above the mundane by the authenticity of Lily's rage against what was done to her and the strength of her commitment to live her life to her own standards. It's a fine close to a series that I am sure I will read again.I listened to the audiobook version of this series, performed by Julia Gibson. She did a wonderful job, not just in being "the voice of Lily Bard" but also in creating and sustaining voices for the other characters. She was the perfect choice for these books.

Shakespeare's Counselor by Charlaine Harris This is the last book in this series by Ms Harris. In Shakespeare's Counselor Lily goes through her usual trials and tribulations. Waking from a nightmare to find herself attacking Jack, she finally decides that she needs to join a Rape survivors group. While this is a good thing, here I think Ms Harris has finally met a bit of her match. We don't get quite her usual in depth characterizations with the women of the group. There are stereotypes here that I am not sure she meant to include. On top of that Ms Harris has the woman counselor who runs the group as a victim of a stalker. Maybe it was the time period it was written in or maybe she just didn't quite do her usual amazing research but this part of the story comes off very flat and misunderstood. Stalking is a major problem in much of the western world and is taken very seriously by today's police departments. While prosecuting those doing the stalking is difficult, it is being done. While I enjoyed most of this story, I did not enjoy having the woman being stalked thought of as a nut job who was doing it to herself. This was and is a common misconception found all over. For once I can say one of Ms Harris' books was both too predictable and annoying to me. I gave it four stars because, yes it did drag me from start to finish and yes there were some very good characters introduced in this volume but it felt as if the meat of the story was just not there. The villains in the piece were almost two dimensional and as I said, predictable. Also Lily's reaction to her miscarriage seemed way off. Yes, every woman deals with it differently, but Lily barely acknowledged it. Now I understand someone who didn't know they were pregnant being confused but her reaction was off IMO for a woman who had thought she would never conceive. Still all in all this was a good book but just not the best in this series.

Do You like book Shakespeare's Counselor (2005)?

The series finale for Lily Bard ranked a disappointing 'ok' for me; Lily had been such a well-constructed heroine up to this point - she had a brutal backstory that shaped her into the person she was: wary, distrustful, solitary and standoffish. I truly believed this novel would provide her the opportunity to complete her character arc. I was not expecting a fairy godmother-like transformation but hey - a likeable Lily would have been nice. Instead she's standoffish, at times openly churlish (and unprovoked to be same) and even describes herself by saying 'I know I was being a pill' and 'I was being purposefully balky'. Ooo-kay. It's hard to cheer for a protag who is intentionally acting like an ass and doing not one thing to change or be proactive about it.Then there were the purposeless scenes - Lily's miscarriage. Another ooo-kay. What was that slid in there for? Sympathy, maybe? Very tough to give - the character was back in ass-kick mode within hours of a D&C. (which really tried the whole Willing Suspension of Disbelief, that). And then that strange dinner she and Jack had with his partners. An ex lover of Jack's literally drops in out of the blue and (again unprovoked) starts a nasty verbal catfight with Lily (who of course kicks her ass). The whole point of that scene still has me mystified and what's more is that people don't act like that! And if these two women really *did* act like that good ol' Jack would be wise to kick 'em both to the curb.As for the mystery itself, whoa. The idea of a married couple playing psychological chess with each other is very cool but the way this was executed reminded me of a suitcase being tossed together at the very last moment before the trip; some stuff needed to be there, some stuff just did not belong, and a whole lot was missing altogether. I really loved this series and had high hopes for this book. Oh well ....
—Bonnie Randall

"So you have a stalker, and Janet doesn't. I got raped, you didn't. Saralynn was murdered, Carla wasn't...""So you don't believe a divine plan runs the universe?"I just laughed. Some plan."Don't you believe that most people are innately good?""No." In fact, I found the fact that some people did believe that to be absolutely incomprehensible.Tamsin looked really horrified. "You don't believe that we're only given the burdens we can handle?""Obviously not."She tried again. "Do you believe in the eventual punishment of evildoers?"I shrugged.BOOM. And THAT'S why I love Lily Bard - she's the antithesis of "everything happens for a reason." If you know me, then you probably know that's an expression that I hate. Nothing happens for a reason; the universe is random and chaotic, wherein terrible things happen to wonderful people, and awful people get away with the craziest stuff. This is probably one of my core worldviews, which I guess makes me kind of a cynic. Cynics aren't really popular, because they can be downers - so I feel like they're not well-represented in popular mass-market fiction. Lily Bard is the exception, and I love her for it. Something else that I really, really love about this series is that Harris tackles some huge social issues. She addresses deep-seated racism and sexism, and gives the reader an intimate look at what it's like to be a survivor of violent sexual assault. The fact that she looks these ugly truths about humanity straight in the eye and discusses them with intelligence and finesse firmly places this series head and shoulders above your run-of-the-mill cozy mysteries. This isn't some stupid yarn shop/tea shop/chocolate cake mystery; these books actually have some social, emotional, and intellectual substance.Now that I've finished the series, I can definitively say that it's one of my favorites of all time.

The fifth (and to my knowledge, last--I don't know if any more are forthcoming) Lily Bard book is almost more about developments in Lily's life than it is an actual crime. This is not to say that there isn't one in Shakespeare's Counselor, because there is, and a pretty warped one at that. Our heroine, now that her relationship with her lover Jack has progressed to a point where she's willing to take his suggestion to start addressing some of the issues in her life, joins a rape survivor therapy group. And is shortly thereafter confronted with a dead body, violently killed, found where her group has been meeting. At the same time, Lily learns that the counselor running the group is apparently herself getting stalked, struggling with serious issues of her own even as she's trying to help them all.Quite intense stuff there, and Harris does a good job of handling the ramifications of her plot points in her compact page count. I found it a little odd jumping to this one after recently reading the first Lily Bard (in which her original backstory is told in detail)... and yet, reading the books so close together did show a nice story arc of Lily dealing with what she's suffered as her life in Shakespeare has progressed through the five books. On the other hand, I'm not sure whether I also needed a subplot of Lily suffering a miscarriage in this book. It's handled well, like the survivor group issues, and yet it made reading it a bit too... much. So, I do still recommend this as well as the series as a whole, but with a cautionary note that the plotlines may be a bit triggery for anyone with history in these areas. Three and a half stars.

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