by Maggie O'Farrell (Author)

A New York Times Best Seller

One of The New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year

A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year

"Of all the stories that argue and speculate about Shakespeare’s life…here is a novel…so gorgeously written that it transports you." (The Boston Globe)

In 1580’s England, during the Black Plague, a young Latin tutor falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman in this “exceptional historical novel” (The New Yorker) and best-selling winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Agnes is a wild creature who walks her family’s land with a falcon on her glove and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer, understanding plants and potions better than she does people. Once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon, she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose career on the London stage is taking off when his beloved young son succumbs to sudden fever.

A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, and whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to put down - a magnificent leap forward from one of our most gifted novelists.

In Maggie O'Farrell's "Hamnet," we embark on a poignant journey through the life of Agnes, the wife of William Shakespeare, and their son, Hamnet. Set in the vibrant tapestry of Elizabethan England, this novel delves into the complexities of love, loss, and the enduring power of memory.

Agnes, a remarkable woman often overshadowed by her famous husband, emerges as a vibrant and resilient character. O'Farrell's skillful storytelling brings to light Agnes's deep connection with the natural world and her enduring love for her family, despite the constraints of her era.

The bond between Agnes and her son, Hamnet, forms the emotional core of the novel. As Hamnet navigates the challenges of childhood, Agnes's unwavering love and guidance serve as a beacon of hope. Their relationship is a testament to the profound and enduring power of maternal love.

When tragedy strikes and Hamnet succumbs to illness, Agnes and her family are left grappling with unimaginable grief. O'Farrell's exploration of their mourning process is both deeply moving and insightful. She captures the raw emotions of loss and the complexities of healing, reminding us of the universal human experience of sorrow.

"Hamnet" is a masterful work of historical fiction that breathes new life into the story of Shakespeare's family. O'Farrell's evocative prose and meticulous research transport readers to the vibrant world of Elizabethan England, immersing them in the sights, sounds, and emotions of the era.

Through the lens of Agnes and Hamnet's story, "Hamnet" explores timeless themes of love, loss, and the enduring power of family. It is a novel that will resonate with readers long after they finish the final page, leaving them with a profound appreciation for the intricacies of human relationships.


July 21, 2020