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eBook - 2020
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*A New York Times Best Seller*
“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.
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group


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While the writing is poetic and emotional the story line is boring, nothing that anyone with a cursory knowledge of the life of Shakespeare would not already know. There is some interesting description of life in 16th century England- the plagues the poverty and the parochial view of life. The experience was spoiled by the use of the clumsy convention of 'braiding' the story line so that it flips from the courtship to the mundane life of the wife and children waiting for Father William to come home from London.
I plodded through the story. Yes it is sad to lose a child but families in that era usually lost more children than grew to adulthood. There is just not enough depth to this story to warrant the acclaim.

May 22, 2021

Stunning. Passionate. Deeply emotional. Beautifully crafted. The story is so well written, so complete that it feels true. The chapter that followed the journey of the fleas that carried the plague had me on the edge of my seat. Who would have guessed?! The depth of insight into love, bereavement, and suffering is astonishing.

Apr 07, 2021

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.

Feb 09, 2021

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.

Bunny_Watson716 Feb 04, 2021

I found the ending to this book to be so beautiful I read it twice. A lovely, profound story.

Jan 28, 2021

In the first 15 pages of the book the author describes a boy trying to find his relatives in an empty house. Sigh.

Jan 16, 2021

On a list of titles I wanted to read in 2020

Jan 08, 2021

Dec 30, 2020

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.

Dec 28, 2020

a completely absorbing read - full of emotion both tender and raw and gripping in its grief

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