Good morning my loves!
Okay, I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am for this blog post. If you’ve been following me for some time on Twitter you’ll know that Maggie O’Farrell is one of my favorite authors of all time. I have adored everything I have read from her including her fiction and non-fiction and as a huge fan of historical fiction, I could not contain my excitement when I heard that Maggie was giving this genre a try.
I was so very very lucky, as I had worked with Georgina Moore quite a few times, I found myself on the list of the first few to receive a proof of Hamnet, yes one of those special hardback proofs! (I know right, I cried when it arrived!). When the opportunity came to be a part of the blog tour I absolutely jumped at the chance! So, without further ado, here is my review of Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell!
* Thank you to Tinder Press for sending me a gifted copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Author: Maggie O’Farrell
Publication date: March 31st, 2020
My rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads rating: 4.41
Genre: Historical fiction
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.
Overall opinion of the book:
It is hard to write a review for a book that you loved so much without being overly gushy or giving too much away, but I will try.
Hamnet is O’Farrells first foray into historical fiction and her ninth published book. Having read five of them myself before picking up Hamnet, I had the feeling that I would love this as much as I had loved her other. What I had not expected, however, was the depth of love that I’d have for this book. It is a story of the unbreakable bond between twins, a marriage on the precipice due to shared grief, and the life of the boy who gave the name to one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.
Dealing with a topic so rarely mentioned in the literature, the death of William Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, Maggie transports us to the late 1500s with such learned prose it almost beggars belief that she was not there. In the first few pages of the book, Judith takes to her bed with a fever, with what we later come to know as the bubonic plague, Hamnet rushes at breakneck speed to find help. The tension and the urgency so apparent it left me breathless.
There are so many words that I could use to describe the way that this book is written, compassionately, dignified, earnest, empathetic, sometimes ghoulish, impassioned, urgent to name a few. But none will come close to adequately convey with you the reading experience. It is just one of those things that you have to read for yourself to appreciate.
A historical book that resonates so much right now with everything going on with the SARS-CORONAVIRUS-2 pandemic. More than a little glad that I read this masterful book before the shit hit the fan, not sure my anxious little brain could read it right now… But if you have yet to read it and feel like you’re in the headspace to do so, please please do, it is exceptional beyond words!