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Hamnet (2020)

by Maggie O'Farrell

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5173734,091 (4.51)126
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 vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.… (more)

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English (35)  Dutch (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
My wife and I began to read Hamnet for our local reading group but gave up about halfway through, finding it meandering, fey and a little too aware of itself. I'm mystified by all the rave reviews for this book. ( )
  cappybear | Nov 25, 2020 |
At work, I'm currently reading Romeo and Juliet with freshman, and I'm sure that impacted my experience with Hamnet in a positive way. Maggie O'Farrell doesn't write in sonnets, but she does tap into the time period and uses some of the phrasing and language. Agnes, Hamnet's mother, is one of the most compelling characters I've read. I laughed, scorned, cried, and loved with her as she goes through life in this fantastic novel. ( )
  Beth.Clarke | Nov 21, 2020 |
A truly remarkable novel, so finely wrought, conjuring up a powerful sense of the past, creating palpably real characters. A must for Shakespeare fans, but even if you don't know your Stratford-upon-Avon lore, there's a lot to be found here. ( )
  therebelprince | Nov 15, 2020 |
After her mother died, Agnes’ father remarried. Her new stepmother despised her; so Agnes became a child of the fields, loving the woods and the natural herbal cures that her mother had pursued.

Until one day, her younger half brothers’ Latin tutor spied her walking with a hawk on her fist. Love followed, and so young William Shakespeare (although he is never named thusly in the story) married the slightly older Agnes, somewhat prematurely pregnant with the twins Hamnet and Judith.

It’s a story of love and family and of moving through life. It’s also a brilliantly written portrait of grief that had me in tears and would make it hard for me to reread this book.

Nevertheless, the story and the writing make it one of my favorite books of the year. ( )
  streamsong | Nov 13, 2020 |
What an emotional read this turned out to be.
  HelenBaker | Nov 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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He is dead and gone, lady, He is dead and gone; At his head a grass-green turf, At his heals a stone. Hamlet, Act IV, scene v
Hamnet and Hamlet are in fact the same name, entirely interchangeable in Stratford records in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Steven Greenblatt, 'The death of Hamnet and the making of Hamlet', New York Review of Books ( 21 October 2004)
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For Will,
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A boy is coming down a flight of stairs.
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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 vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.

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