Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

This is a review that I’ve struggled to start, how do I do justice on a book that is already iconic, and is only going to become more so? It’s a book that is discussed regularly by bloggers and all the reviews that are already out there, cover every thought I have on this book, so why write a review? I then reminded myself why I started this blog, and it was to record all the great books I’ve read over the years. It’s for my viewers, but also for me. And I want to remember this book forever.

In Hamnet, O’Farrell creates a fictional story surrounding Shakespeare’s family that is weaved in with the facts known about them. Shakespeare is not the main character in this story – his wife and children are, and they truly are the most wonderfully, intriguing people. 

Agnes has a backstory that shapes who she is today, her resilience and confidence in her skills make her such an admirable and fascinating woman. With her husband often in London, she’s left to bring up their three children in Stratford-Upon-Avon, with the condescending observations of her mother-in-law. They were unable to follow William to the city as their youngest daughter would struggle with the city smog but Agnes has never minded because she loves what the countryside offers her.

She can grow her medicinal herbs and help people. She helps so many people, even with the judginess of others claiming she’s a witch, but when her youngest daughter falls ill, it seems nothing she does will work. How will Judith survive? How will Hamnet survive without his twin sister.

All eyes are on Judith.

They shouldn’t have been.

The sense of foreboding is present throughout this story due to the order O’Farrell presents the events, which utilises a past and present back and forth style; shaping the tale with the backstory whilst creating suspense from the ongoing present snapshots that begin to fall into place.

The further I got into this story, the more immersed I became. These characters are so cleverly explored and the plot is so incredibly moving. Whilst sadness is present, O’Farrell’s words are so cathartic that you can be moved by the story but not overwhelmed with grief.

O’Farrell’s writing style is sophisticated, charming and packs atmosphere into every sentence. 

It’s a book that will make your skin tingle, your eyes tear up and your mind explode with so many emotions!

Hamnet is out now in hardback and eBook versions from Tinder Press.

Until next time, Chloé x

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