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“I loved Hamnet in very much the same way I loved Lincoln in the Bardo. This novel explores the way the dead haunt the living—especially how the death of a child haunts their parents—and does it in the context of a fascinating historical figure and time. But we know so much about the Lincolns, and so little about the Shakespeares. Maggie O’Farrell’s ability to construct a palpably real emotional life for all the members of the Shakespeare family—but especially for Shakespeare’s wife—is just magical. This is a powerful and haunting novel.”Nina Barrett,
Bookends & Beginnings
“We all know about Shakespeare's work but how much do we know about his life? I, for one, knew very little which is the best way to go into this book. I found it fascinating and so beautifully written, sad but utterly captivating. This is a real gem!”Polly,
The Hickory Stick Bookshop
“In this acclaimed new novel, author Maggie O’Farrell takes one small detail from the life of William Shakespeare and spins it into a complex and wonderful love story and family saga, set during an outbreak of the bubonic plague in 1590’s England. Ell Potter's audiobook performance brings these characters to life, adding a layered intimacy to the experience of this subtle and beautifully written story.”Noelle,
“A wonderful imaginative tale of the family of one of England’s most famous writers – who is never named, but of course you know immediately who it is. O’Farrell has a beautiful style of language, with astute observations and lovely vivid descriptions and Daisy Donovan is the perfect narrator. At the core it is a story of shared grief and how each family member deals with loss but it is so much more – it captures Elizabethan times, all the sights, smells and nuances and the characters, especially Agnes and the twins are wonderful. Good if you liked Year of Wonders, Pope Joan or period pieces. Brilliant!”Karin,
Bookworm of Edwards
“Fans of A. S. Byatt, Penelope Fitzgerald, or Barbara Gowdy... are probably really tired of retellings of Shakespeare's life. Why read another? Because it so breathtakingly captures emotion. Because the opening sequence is one of the best expositions and descriptions of Shakespeare's Stratford you'll ever hear. Because the reimagining of Shakespeare's wife as a half-wild greenwitch sounds absurd, but in fact is compelling and captivating. Because it is not a charming puzzle box of references to multiple plays: it's the history of Shakespeare's depth of feeling, renewed in a story every strong and imaginative woman will find core-shaking and inspiring.”Nialle,
The Haunted Bookshop
“I wanted to live in this book forever and for it to never, ever end. I have never had a book hangover like the one I had when I finished this book. It is so, so, so, good. Every word is perfectly chosen and often not the expected choice. I can't say enough about both the writing and the narration and I already can't wait to listen to this one again.”Elisa,
Another Read Through
NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Of all the stories that argue and speculate about Shakespeare’s life ... here is a novel ... so gorgeously written that it transports you." —The Boston Globe
In 1580’s England, during the Black Plague a young Latin tutor falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman in this “exceptional historical novel” (The New Yorker) and best-selling winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Agnes is a wild creature who walks her family’s land with a falcon on her glove and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer, understanding plants and potions better than she does people. Once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose career on the London stage is taking off when his beloved young son succumbs to sudden fever.
A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a tender and unforgettable re-imagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, and whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to put down—a magnificent leap forward from one of our most gifted novelists.
Don’t miss Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel, The Marriage Portrait!