Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reviews of All Our Yesterdays by Joel Morris

All Our Yesterdays

by Joel H. Morris

All Our Yesterdays by Joel H. Morris X
All Our Yesterdays by Joel H. Morris
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    Mar 2024, 368 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A propulsive and piercing debut, set ten years before the events of Shakespeare's historic play, about the ambition, power, and fate that define one of literature's most notorious figures: Lady Macbeth.

Scotland, the 11th Century. Born in a noble household and granddaughter of a forgotten Scottish king, a young girl carries the guilt of her mother's death and the weight of an unknowable prophecy. When she is married, at fifteen, to the Mormaer of Moray, she experiences firsthand the violence of a sadistic husband and a kingdom constantly at war. To survive with her young son in a superstitious realm, she must rely on her own cunning and wit, especially when her husband's downfall inadvertently sets them free.

Suspicious of the dark devices that may have led to his father's death, her son watches as his mother falls in love with the enigmatic thane Macbeth. Now a woman of stature, Lady Macbeth confronts a world of masculine power and secures the protection of her family. But the coronation of King Duncan and the political maneuvering of her cousin Macduff set her on a tragic course, one where her own success might mean embracing the very curse that haunts her and risking the child she loves.

Chapter One

In my husband's eyes I see a hunger. In their gleam is a longing to know. We lie together, pale in the milky half-light, half ourselves, half each other's.

It is our wedding night.

He rises on an elbow, considers my face. His eyes dwell on each feature—mouth, nose, cheek, and chin. I am a book he desires to read. He wishes that I would teach him how.

"Tell me," he says.

I grin. He is a poor student of anything apart from the battlefield. There he is practiced, studied. But he has not yet learned to apply his art to life—or to love.

"My noble lord," I say. "You tell me. Describe what you see."

He considers. Where to begin?

"Your lips," he says, "are red as roses."

I sigh. "It's a start. A schoolboy's, but a start."

"Oh?" He is not used to being thwarted. "Let me try again. Your rose-red lips are full of mirth."

"Too easy." I grin. "You cheat."

"But when you laugh, your smile is slightly crooked on one side. Here, on the right."

I smile again.

"Just so," he says. He brushes the...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. What, if anything, did you know about Lady Macbeth before reading this novel? Has this story changed your impression of her? If so, how?
  2. In what ways do characters shape one another's identities in this novel? To what extent is Lady Macbeth changed by her marriages and by her motherhood? How is Macbeth changed by his new role as husband and stepfather?
  3. What is achieved by including multiple perspectives and timelines in this novel? What would be different if it had been set in only one timeline and narrated from only one perspective?
  4. What does this novel seem to say about gender norms and expectations in Lady Macbeth's era? Where do you see the relevance of these themes today?
  5. Lady Macbeth has traditionally been seen as a villain ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Joel H. Morris's debut novel, All Our Yesterdays, is a prequel to Shakespeare's famous tragedy Macbeth, beginning with "The Lady's" marriage to the warlord Macbeth and ending with her learning her husband has been declared Thane of Cawdor (which is where Shakespeare's play begins). The author brilliantly imagines this woman's eleventh-century life, restoring her voice and giving her purpose while vividly describing the world in which she lived. What really makes the novel a standout is how seamlessly the author incorporates elements of Shakespeare's play into the narrative while still making the work his own. The misty fens of Macbeth are ever-present in All Our Yesterdays, as is the overwhelming feeling of a malevolent presence that wishes ill upon the house of Macbeth; one can almost feel the clammy, swirling fog as one reads...continued

Full Review (613 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

Historical Novels Review
[A] wonderfully atmospheric novel. Morris drops the reader into a fully realized 11th-century world with all the sights and sounds. Carefully chosen words and small details shape this fearful and foreboding world... [A] rich study of one of the most vilified literary characters.

CrimeReads
Thoughtful, eerie, and full of medieval magic, Morris' take on the much-maligned lady will perhaps have you rooting for her and her partner, or at least, feeling some sympathy for her quest of vengeance.

Booklist
All characters are drawn with inventiveness and depth... Entirely illuminating... [A] beautifully realized tale of a daughter, mother, and wife ultimately at the mercy of Fate's unknowable interventions.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
[A] beautiful interpretation, which is so rich in its descriptions and well-crafted characters... A most enjoyable setup for the Scottish play.

Publishers Weekly
Intriguing... Crisp, no-nonsense prose conveys the narrative's gathering darkness [and] Morris intelligently explores the era's gender dynamics... [An] entertaining prequel to Shakespeare's complex and haunting tragedy.

Author Blurb Jennifer Croft, author of The Extinction of Irena Rey
A gorgeous evocation of a mother and son in a prison of their own too-powerful story, All Our Yesterdays is a triumph of both research and imagination, a heartbreaking and revelatory read.

Author Blurb Karen Joy Fowler, author of Booth and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Lady Macbeth is surely one of our most instantly recognizable characters, a shorthand now for heartless and overweening ambition. In All Our Yesterdays, Morris has given her the deep, nuanced, and complicated backstory she deserves. With witches! Thoroughly engrossing, highly recommended.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The Real-Life Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

Lady MacBeth walking in her sleep, full-length view, carrying candle; a man and a woman observe from a bench on the right in the background.Joel H. Morris's novel All Our Yesterdays imagines the lives of Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth, before the events that unfold in Shakespeare's tragedy. Many are familiar with the tale but may not realize the couple are based on individuals who really did live in what is now Scotland during the eleventh century.

Scotland was known as the Kingdom of Alba from 900 to 1286 CE, and Macbeth (Mac Bethad mac Findláech, c. 1005–1057 CE) and his wife Gruoch (born c. 1015, death unknown) were both descended from Alba royalty through the line of Malcolm I (Máel Coluim mac Domnaill, d. 954).

Malcom had two sons who succeeded him: Duff (Dub mac Maíl Coluim, reigned 962–967) and Kenneth II (Cin&...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked All Our Yesterdays, try these:

We have 4 read-alikes for All Our Yesterdays, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Last Bloodcarver
    The Last Bloodcarver
    by Vanessa Le
    The city-state of Theumas is a gleaming metropolis of advanced technology and innovation where the ...
  • Book Jacket: Say Hello to My Little Friend
    Say Hello to My Little Friend
    by Jennine CapĂł Crucet
    Twenty-year-old Ismael Reyes is making a living in Miami as an impersonator of the rapper/singer ...
  • Book Jacket: The Painter's Daughters
    The Painter's Daughters
    by Emily Howes
    Peggy and Molly Gainsborough are sisters and best friends, living an idyllic life in 18th-century ...
  • Book Jacket: Beverly Hills Spy
    Beverly Hills Spy
    by Ronald Drabkin
    When it comes to espionage, not only is truth stranger than fiction, sometimes it can be downright ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Half a Cup of Sand and Sky
by Nadine Bjursten
A poignant portrayal of a woman's quest for love and belonging amid political turmoil.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Stone Home
    by Crystal Hana Kim

    A moving family drama and coming-of-age story revealing a dark corner of South Korean history.

  • Book Jacket

    The House on Biscayne Bay
    by Chanel Cleeton

    As death stalks a gothic mansion in Miami, the lives of two women intertwine as the past and present collide.

Who Said...

The good writer, the great writer, has what I have called the three S's: The power to see, to sense, and to say. ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

S B the B

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.