The author, Maggie O’Farrell, employs simple, short, yet effective sentences which makes Hamnet an easy and enjoyable read.
By Geneive D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | January 01, 2022
Book Review: Hamnet
Author: Maggie O’Farrell
The Essence: The author employs simple, short, yet effective sentences which makes it an easy and enjoyable read. On display is also a seamless transition of the writing when the story moves from the past to the present and from the present to the past. Maggie O’Farrell always ends her chapters at the perfect moment, right when the reader is dying to know what happens next.
Hamnet Book Review
Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell, is a fictional narrative of Hamnet, Shakespeare’s son, on whom the play Hamlet was based. Records show that Hamnet died in the year 1596, at the age of eleven. Hamnet is a narration of events that occurred in Shakespeare’s time with his family and how an 11-year-old boy’s name has been lent to one of the most famous plays in the world.
The first thing you notice, surprisingly, is that neither Hamnet nor Shakespeare seems to be the main character around whom the story revolves. The character which is focused the most on by O’Farrell is Agnes, Hamnet’s mother and Shakespeare’s wife. We get an account of what her life was like before she met Shakespeare, what it was like after marrying him, and what role she played in the society they lived in. Interestingly, Shakespeare’s name is never mentioned anywhere in the book. He is always referred to as ‘Agnes’ husband’, ‘the Latin tutor’ at the very beginning, ‘his father’, ‘his eldest son’—which seems to be intentionally done by O’Farrell because the focus would always be on him, and these other characters would always be referred to as in relation with him. This style validates them as characters who have their own identities and stories.
A simple style, an enjoyable read
There are simple, short, yet effective sentences used by the author, which makes it an easy and enjoyable read. On display is also a seamless transition of the writing when the story moves from the past to the present and from the present to the past. Maggie O’Farrell always ends her chapters at the perfect moment, right when the reader is dying to know what happens next.
Hamlet was written by Shakespeare four years after Hamnet dies. We also get to see how Agnes reacts to this when she hears about the play. This book explores themes like grief and loss, how different characters and people react and deal with these feelings in different ways. It is as if you can feel the sorrow, through the humane ways we see it being portrayed through these characters, wonderfully created by Maggie O’Farrell.
Maggie O’Farrell won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2020 for Hamnet. Many of her other books have won awards such as her first novel, After You’d Gone, and The Hand That First Held Mine. She is widely known for writing fiction and historical fiction.
(Geneive D’Souza is a student of St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, studying Arts. She is passionate about writing, music, playing the piano and La Liga, FC Barcelona, and Lionel Messi).
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