Bear Review: Shakespeare


Review of Shakespeare Bear

by Jackie Law, book blogger, writer and arctophile

P1020410There is little better than book post, except perhaps bear post.

Shakespeare arrived in a canvas, drawstring bag decorated with images of all his friends. He is dressed in a well made and attractive black doublet, trimmed with burgundy velvet and antique gold satin. His ruff has been hand folded from grosgrain ribbon; he sports a bottle green velvet, Elizabethan bonnet trimmed with a feather. As with all writers, he comes prepared to make notes when inspiration strikes. Historians are divided over whether The Bard wrote with his right hand or his left hand; this little bear carefully holds his quill in his left paw. In his right he carries a ribbon bound stack of three plays: Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet. Each is a properly bound book, although currently lacking words.

As with all Great British Teddy Bears, Shakespeare is fully jointed, has soft fur, an adorable expression, and is stuffed to a consistency perfect for cuddling. All of his clothes and accessories are removable. For the purposes of this review I decided to take him to London to visit a few of the landmarks associated with his namesake. As travel can be hazardous, I packed his books and quill separately.

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William Shakespeare was born 450 years ago.  Many of his plays were performed at the Globe Theatre.

Shakespeare Bear packed easily into the bag that I carried for our day out. He shared this with the usual, family paraphernalia: water bottles, snacks, books, toys, extra clothing. Despite being stored between my feet on the train, squished between commuters on the underground, pulled and pushed out of and into my bag for photo opportunities throughout the day, he remained looking dapper, undamaged and adorable. This is a robustly made bear that can be played with.

We got caught in a shower of rain from which I did my best to protect him. The slight dampness quickly dried out leaving no ill effects. Each time I posed him for a photograph, passers by would smile and occasionally remark on his good looks. He is a very handsome bear and enjoyed the attention.

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Shakespeare Bear sitting on his Book Bench. Later in the day, mulling the possibility of time travel.

What else can I tell you about this teddy? He is perfectly sized, being neither too big to transport easily nor too small to cuddle comfortably. He is well made and durable, the perfect companion for a child or an adult. The attention to detail and quality of construction on both bear and accessories are impressive.

We enjoyed our day in the city and Shakespeare now sits quietly on my desk, emanating the wisdom and love that make teddy bears so special. After all the excitement of his arrival he can look forward to calm afternoons spent helping me with my writing.


So Shakespeare, how can I finish this review with the words: ‘Exit, pursued by a bear’?

(This post was written for The Great British Teddy Bear Company who provided my bear)


Book Review: The Long Fall


The Long Fall, by Julia Crouch, is described as a revenge thriller about a mother trying to protect her family. I found this aspect of the plot weak. The protagonist irritated me as so many of her actions reeked of stupidity. Her background may have been sheltered, but a working class girl clever enough to have been offered a place at Cambridge would be capable of critical thinking. The way she acted suggested a distinct lack of cognitive awareness.

Having said that, the first half of the book succeeded in drawing me in. The use of journal entries worked well and the characters were believable enough at this stage. Given their ages and the loneliness of the protagonist whilst travelling, it was possible to accept that she would act as described. Each reader comes to a book with their own personal life experiences colouring how they will respond to the unfolding tale, and I have yet to meet a young person as foolish as Emma, but I could swallow that such a girl may exist.

Having created the background and teased with sparse plot details, the build up to the key act was well written. Even though I knew what was coming I was eager to find out the hows and whys. This middle section was tense and enjoyable. Its conclusion left me satisfied and ready to continue with what was to happen next, the revenge. It was this which disappointed.

As soon as Beattie reappeared I guessed what was coming; not all of the finer details, but the gist of what was happening. A supposedly intelligent woman, even one with the many issues described, would not have walked so blindly into every trap set, would not have complied so meekly. I found too many contradictions in Emma. Whereas I could accept some stupidity in a nineteen year old, alone and afraid in a foreign land, it was harder to believe that a woman with the life experiences described could be so blindly foolish.

My antipathy towards the second half of the book grew as it progressed. I could not believe that, given how these people had acted in the past alongside how they acted now, Emma would not have at least suspected that all was not as it seemed. Her unquestioning acceptance grated to such an extent that I struggled to continue with the story.

The concluding chapters went some way towards redeeming a book that I was no longer enjoying. There were a few pleasing plot twists, although some loose ends were perhaps tied up a little too neatly. It was not enough though. The book was about an act of revenge, and this was the aspect that I found weak. A person with the background and intelligence that the protagonist was given would have shown more sense.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Headline.