Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

What can be said about this novel that hasn’t already been said? Reviews teem with superlatives which chime with my experience of reading this wonderful book.

Set in 1596 O’Farrell eschews the great movers and shakers of history. Instead she takes the scant details we know about Shakespeare’s domestic life and with them weaves a compelling and hypnotic tale. Central to the story is his son Hamnet/Hamlet (the names were interchangeable at the time) whose early death results in the naming of his great play. But it is Agnes (Ann) whose presence dominates the story. Significantly the Bard is never mentioned by name.

There is an intimacy in the telling of this historical tale as we are invited in to the minutia of life of this period. The loves, passions and toil of life. But the scope is much larger, set in the time of a global plague it is universal in its portrayal of grief in all its guises. The poetic narrative is slow paced and dream-like weaving a spell over the reader. If your bag is a fast paced action novel this book will not be for you.

This is my first Maggie O’Farrell novel and I give it a 10 out of 10

Submitted by Heather