Book Review: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Maggie O’Farrell is one of my favourite authors – someone whose latest book I would always actively seek out.  I was delighted, therefore, to be granted access to a review copy of her new book, Hamnet, on NetGalley.  What a wonderful read this is.

From the blurb:

Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright. It is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink by grief. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; a flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker’s son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves. Above all, it is a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.

I always enjoy books which explore the lives of famous people or well-known events from an unexpected perspective.  The genius of O’Farrell’s text is that it makes a virtue of ‘the elephant in the room’.  William Shakespeare is not named once in the book – in fact we experience his character as almost incidental to the main story, which focuses principally on his wife Agnes, how her life is affected by her marriage into the Shakespeare family, and how she is affected by the fate of her children, most particularly her son Hamnet. Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation: From Fleishman Is In Trouble to I’m Not Complaining

I have had a brief break from this blog in recent weeks, but if there is one thing to get me going again, it is the monthly Six Degrees meme hosted by Kate.  These posts are always such fun to compile and I love reading everyone else’s lists too.

The starting point this month is Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.  I had not heard of this before, which is surprising given all the plaudits from a wide range of luminaries on its Amazon page.  I’ll have to give it a look sometime. Continue reading