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i read this book to fulfil the goal read a A book that has won the Women's Prize For Fiction. it took me a while to get into it, but i liked the ending very much.
Maggie O'Farrell is an amazing writer. I love her work (I have read a work of nonfiction of hers called "I Am, I Am, I Am" and I loved it, too). The writing in Hamnet is exceptional, and it reads like a work of historical fiction, with an element of mysticism or magical realism. The most abiding feature, though, is the love of a mother and father for their child, Hamnet, who dies from the plague in England. Hamnet is a synonym for Hamlet, and apparently scholars believe that William Shakespeare had a boy named Hamnet who died about three years before he wrote the play, "Hamlet." For me, it wasn't a quick read. There is so much sadness infused throughout the pages. Not many books make me weep. This one did.
I found the ending to this book to be so beautiful I read it twice. A lovely, profound story.
In the first 15 pages of the book the author describes a boy trying to find his relatives in an empty house. Sigh.
What an unusual, beautiful book! As the title indicates, the plot is a fictionalized story of Shakespeare's son Hamnet (or Hamlet), who died (supposedly of plague) when he was only 11. The name Shakespeare is never mentioned in the book, and Anne is here called Agnes (apparently a spelling variation of her name). This is clearly a work of fantasy, a very personal interpretation of events happened many centuries ago and about which we really don't know much. But I liked it very much, I think this is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I don't want to give away too much, so I will just say that the story moves on two levels: Hamnet and Judith's sickness and the story of Agnes and Will's meeting and love. The two levels meet at the moment of the boy's untimely death, when his parents react in radically different ways to their loss. The last pages are the most moving and the author's ending is truly memorable. I was crying when I got to the last sentence. This book is a case of suspension of disbelief, because if you want to read it keeping in mind the truth - or what we think is the truth - you will not enjoy it. O'Farrell creates a world of unbelievable characters that we want to believe, using a style so poetic that you will want to reread several sections just for the pleasure of seeing those words again. If you love Shakespeare or a very good book, this is for you.
a completely absorbing read - full of emotion both tender and raw and gripping in its grief
Lovely writing and a fascinating topic make this book one of my faves of the year. This is a historical reimagining of William Shakespeare's life in which he is not mentioned by name (at least not in the body of the novel itself...I'm sure it's on the flap copy and in the author's note ;) ). It's more the story of his family than of him, and specifically his son, Hamnet, who died of unknown causes as a child. O'Farrell draws a line from the son to the titular character of Hamlet and imagines how the play came by it's name and how it might have affected Anne Hathaway. A compelling read and beautifully written.
An untold story of one lost too soon, Hamnet is about heartbreak, healing, and the parts of us that are never the same. While I typically steer clear of such sad reads, and just forget about child death, it being about the only son of Shakespeare was too compelling and now I'm so glad I didn't pass it up. Maggie O'Farrell has a beautiful voice and she wove this tale with a strong sense of place, lots of historical detail, a dash of magical realism, and fascinating, complex characters. Particularly Hamnet's mother, Agnes, who I feel really stole the show.
This book is mesmerising in it's dreamy prose. It gives a window into the world of people who lived in the 1500's in England that feels authentic.
So much description. The title characters were a small part of the story.
I didn't know what part was fact or fiction but I did manage to stay until the end.
Will check into that for my own info.
I wish Maggie O'Farrell would write more but I am so glad she doesn't. It takes time to tell a story the way she does, building layer on beautiful layer.
"He has never learnt to read so it is meaningless to him but, all the same, he likes the loops, the shapes, the dark cross-hatchings of ink, like the marks made when branches are shaken against an iced-over window pane.
Kindle Immersion Read
Wow! Wow, wow, wow! Hamnet is the best book I’ve read this year and perhaps one of my ‘new’ absolute favorites of all time.
This review could go on for pages, like one of Shakespeare’s plays, but I’ll summarize it by stating that Maggie O'Farrell, is a gifted wordsmith who has taken the 26 letters of the alphabet and weaved them into a beautiful tapestry from Shakespeare's 16th century.
O'Farrell absolutely deserved the ‘Women’s Prize for Fiction’ received this month (September 2020), with some stiff competition from well-known, talented contemporaries. Take a bow madam, as your audience stands in applause. And yes, we will remember you.
This novel, based on the short life of William Shakespeare's son, is a feast of emotions, of love and alienation, of tragedy and coping. The writing involves the reader in the feelings of all the characters, most of all Shakespeare's wife and Hamnet's mother, here called Agnes. The famous Prince of Denmark's name is another form of the boy's name, and the surprise ending makes the connection in a powerful way. This is the first of O'Farrell's books I've read, and now I want some more!
Never did I expect this book, this imagining of William Shakespeare and Anne (Agnes) Hathaway's son's tragic death, to affect me in such a way. Sometimes a voyeuristic view of the past— especially when that past is rough and literally crawling with rats and the plague— can be... well... fun? This felt more like time traveling where a real life is taken right before your eyes and you're helpless to stop it. Taking cues from Shakespeare himself, O'Farrell writes a tragedy for the ages.
A New & Noteworthy staff pick 2020. Shakespeare’s family is devastated by the unexpected death of their young son. This book brings William Shakespeare’s family, especially his wife, to life.
I borrowed this because I love the author, but didn't expect the resonance of a work set in part during an outbreak of the plague...
Take that, you male Shakespeare biographers. Maggie O’Farrell takes the same documents you have used and makes Shakespeare’s marriage to Agnes (Anne) Hathaway into a much more interesting story. As the story opens, the Shakespeare’s 11-year old son, Hamnet, is desperately searching for his grandmother or mother because his sister has a fever. In chapters that move from the past to the present and back, this story focuses on how grief takes over our lives. It is not Hamnet’s sister, but Hamnet’s himself who dies. Shakespeare, himself, spends most of his time in London working on plays, and as the ending of the novel suggests, Shakespeare named his pay “Hamlet” in memory of his son. For along with grief, there is love and the need to carry on for the rest of the family. O’Farrell has taken what little is known about Hamlet and the Shakespeare family life and made them real, while fleshing out their lives with the daily events of the late 16th century.
Multiple timelines holistically bring the Shakespeares' family life into vivid focus. O'Farrell really seizes an opportunity with Anne "Agnes" Hathaway, creating a fierce and formidable character light years away from the shrewish homebody usually on offer--much more the kind of intoxicating woman the young Shakespeare might have been swept away by. A profound meditation on loss and the origins and consolations of art.