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Updated: Jul 26, 2023

I've recently finished listening to an audiobook that has captured my attention and left me with a lot of emotions. It's called “Hamnet,” written by Maggie O'Farrell. So, grab your WIP and a cup of tea, and let's dive into the world of "Hamnet.”

The book and the author, Maggie O'Farrell

The story revolves around the life of William Shakespeare's son, Hamnet, who died tragically at the age of eleven from the bubonic plague. But rather than focusing solely on that devastating event, the author weaves a rich and complex narrative that explores the lives of all the members of Hamnet's family - including his mother, Agnes, who is usually known as Anne Hathaway.

Shakespeare's name isn't mentioned once in the book. However, the reader can understand exactly who he is. Although Hamnet's name reminds us of Hamlet, this boy's life is nothing like that of the prince of Denmark. However, the heartbreak of losing him has certainly driven his father to write his best-known tragic play.

One of the things I loved most about O'Farrell's book was the way that she brings the story to life. Her writing style is absolutely beautiful. She has a way of describing things that is both immersive and poetic. She captures the sights, sounds, and smells in a way that I felt like I was right there alongside the characters, experiencing everything they were experiencing.

The book is told in a non-linear way, with chapters jumping back and forth in time, but it's done in such a way that it's not confusing. It alternates between Agnes's perspective and that of Hamnet, who is a sensitive boy with a deep connection to his twin sister, Judith.

But what really sets Hamnet apart, in my opinion, is the story's emotional depth. It talks about love, loss, and grief, and it's hard not to be moved by it. Even though we know what's coming, the author still manages to create a sense of suspense and tension that leads to a moment of catharsis, just like one of Shakespeare's tragedies.

Overall, I’d highly recommend Hamnet to anyone who loves historical fiction, appreciates a well-crafted book, and isn't afraid of getting emotionally invested in a story. It's a book that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.


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