Book Review: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

I love to read but I am by no means a speedy reader, it usually takes me a few weeks to get through a book even if I’m enjoying it. This book was definitely an exception for me! I devoured this beautifully written book within just a few days during a week away in Cornwall.

Just to give a brief bit of background on the book, it tells the story of the death of William Shakespeare’s only son in 1596. I have always been a Shakespeare fan and interested in his life from a historical perspective, that being said I think that anybody would love this book. I feel that the narrative focuses much more on the point of view of Shakespeare’s wife, who in the book is called Agnes. The story of her life, their marriage and their children is blended seamlessly whilst moving backwards and forwards across a timeline. As you would imagine, with the main focus of the book being the death of their son, it is an incredibly emotive read. The chapters which follow the death are so powerfully written and thought provoking.

Maggie O’Farrell has managed to blend the historical context and the facts we do know about Shakespeare with her own creation and retelling of Hamnet’s life and his mothers perspective. It was incredibly engaging and impossible to put down.

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