I am delighted to share my review for Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. This is a fabulous historical fiction read and one I read a few weeks ago.
Let me show you what it is all about…
Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.
Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.
Award-winning author Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.
What a beautifully written story Hamnet is. There is an intro from the author right at the beginning of the book that gives a wonderful insight into the idea behind this story.
The story begins with Hamnet looking for his sister Judith, and when he discovers her she is ill with a fever. Their mother is out in the fields looking after her beehives and is unaware of what is happening at home.
The story of Hamnet, Judith and the other family members alternates with that of Agnes, her life growing up and her marriage to a glover’s son who then works away in London and becomes a playwright.
William Shakespeare takes a back seat in this story, or should I say he is around but mainly in the wings rather than centre stage. While the story does has reference to Shakespeare and Hamlet, it is a historical fiction story. A story that follows a family during the late 1500s.
The time of the story is important as this is the same time as the plague. I do have to mention an amazing section in the book where the author describes the route of the plague, that description made the plague is almost a character in itself.
The story is heartbreaking as it does deal with the death of a child, the grief of a mother and of the siblings. Yet there is something about the way it has been done that is didn’t make it feel as sad as I was expecting. Maybe it was because the name of Hamnet would live on through the play Hamlet.
This book is a historical fiction and also has a feeling of a literary fiction. There are some wonderful descriptive passages that are really good reading. This is a slow burner that I found myself well and truly caught up in. I really enjoyed the style of the story a lot and I would definitely recommend it.
Many thanks for reading my post, alike or share would be amazing 🙂 xx