31 comments on “Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell | Book Review

  1. Ooh, this is the first blogger review I’ve read of this one. Really interesting thoughts. It’s been SO hyped but I find O’Farrell a much less reliable historical novelist than she is a contemporary one (The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and Instructions for a Heatwave are my two least favourite of her books). So I will definitely be approaching this with caution, despite being an O’Farrell fan.

  2. This sounds like a great premise, I am sure a lot of us would find it interesting to get some insight into an aspect of Shakespeare, we don’t hear much about. A shame it didn’t quite live up to expectations, but still sounded enjoyable.

  3. This one is on my TBR and I do still want to read it but I appreciate your measured review and feel like I’ll know better what to expect when I do read it. (Strangely, it appears that this book is going to be called Hamnet & Judith when it comes out in Canada this spring.)

    • That’s interesting! Judith does play a very big role in the novel, and she is Hamnet’s twin, so I can see why they’d opt for that, but the original title is such an obvious riff on the title of Hamlet that it seems a little odd to change it. Either way, I’m excited to hear your thoughts on the novel once you’ve read it!

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  6. Ah, it’s too bad this one didn’t live up to its premise a bit better for you! I’m so drawn to the concept of this book, but it does sound like a very ambitious project. I haven’t read anything by O’Farrell yet (a tragedy, considering how long she’s been on my TBR) so I had no idea what to expect from her writing… hopefully knowing not to expect a flawless book will help me enjoy it more!

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  20. You make such great points here about the positives and negatives in this novel. I largely agree, though didn’t entirely have the same sense of it being overwritten. I was more confused and underwhelmed at the end since I felt like I was supposed to have a big emotional connection with Shakespeare as a grieving father and I just didn’t. It was almost entirely from Agnes’ perspective which was great and I found her and her process of grieving moving and fascinating. But it seemed like he barely knew his family or his son (which is a tragedy in itself) and so having a fictional account of him didn’t give me any more insight into his writing or motivations. It could have been about any family that experiences this loss which of course humanizes someone thought of as a legend but doesn’t really say anything more than that.

    • Thank you! Yes, I felt exactly the same way. The climax was presented as though it was supposed to be a moment of revelation regarding Shakespeare himself and the play of Hamlet, but the book lacked the kind of emotional connection to him necessary for that to land, sadly.

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