This book has been out for several years, but I just got around to reading it. I mentioned earlier that I almost never quit reading a book because even if I don't like the beginning I harbor hopes that the book will get better and I don't want to miss out if it does. Books like The Shakespeare Stealer are exactly why I do that.
At the beginning of this book I felt no attachment to the main character, an orphan named Widge living in Shakespeare's time. Widge is a bland character who is not particularly likeable or thoughtful, and I found that I didn't really care what happened to him. That all changed as I got further into the book and Widge's life changes. Widge starts out as an orphaned "prentice" with no control over his life. He spends his days following his master's orders and holds no hope for anything different in the future because he is basically a slave. He doesn't care about anyone else because no one has ever cared about him. He doesn't know right from wrong because he's never been given any options.
Widge's life drastically changes after he is sent to London to use his skills in shorthand to secretly copy Shakespeare's newest play, Hamlet, so his master's troupe can begin performing it. After Widge completes his task, the manuscript is stolen and he dares not return to his master without it. When Widge is found sneaking in the Globe theater, he is forced to pretend he wants to be a player. As Widge tries to gain access to the script, he is enveloped in the company and learns about friendship, loyalty, pride, and honesty.
Of course I cared about Widge a great deal in the end. His transformation from a slave to an actor was thought provoking. The Shakespeare Stealer was well written and has a solid conclusion. It left me anxious to step back into Elizabethan times to read the next two books in the series: Shakespeare's Scribe and Shakespeare's Spy.