Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell, is an imagined telling of the lives of Shakespeare’s family who remained in Warwickshire while he was off producing plays in London. Little is known about them and O’Farrell imagines a credible and loving relationship between Agnes, his free spirited wife and healer, and their three children. Central to the novel is the death by plague of 11-year-old Hamnet and O’Farrell recounts in gorgeous language and prose the passion, grief, and ultimately reconciliation with this loss.
I recently Zoomed an interview of O’Farrell by author Jane Hamilton, who gives the novel high praise and feels MO has elevated her writing to a whole new plane. Having read all of MO’s works, including her memoir, I Am, I Am, I Am, I also believe it to be her best yet. JH described the cadence, or “music of the sentences” that makes the book such absolute joy to read. It is a rare book that captures your imagination; a book you wish never to end; a book you want to share; a book you will read again. Hamnet is that book. It is dangerous to assume others must love a book because you do, but trust me; immerse yourself in this exceptional work of imagination and for a few hours escape the troubled times in which we find ourselves.