There is only one other novel that’s made me feel like The Fool’s Girls by Celia Rees did, as far as getting that ‘Stratford feeling’ goes, and that’s Jan Mark’s Stratford Boys.
The first sentence of the book is sheer genius for setting the tone of the whole story; ‘The Shakespeares had the builders in again’. You can’t know that it was the same in those days, but it’s quite fun to imagine that it was. It’s what makes you identify with Will Shakespeare and his parents and friends. No matter what century; we’re all the same. More or less.
16-year-old Will ends up writing, and putting on, a play with his friends, and various other more or less sane characters. It’s absolutely hilarious, and not everything goes wrong. In fact, by the end of the book Will is thinking ahead to ‘next time’. So it can’t have been too bad.