A review by mapscitiesandsongs
Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell

challenging dark emotional mysterious reflective sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I enjoyed my reading experience overall, but I have one major problem with it: It's not really about Hamnet. I went into this book thinking the majority of the book would be either in Hamnet's POV or would, at least, be about Hamnet. Instead I got a book that's basically about his mother Agnes, which isn't a bad thing per se. It was really interesting seeing her get to know Shakespeare and her inner thoughts were quite intriguing, but I imagined something different from a book titled Hamnet. I also don't think the origin of the play is that prominent in the story even though it's clearly stated in the description that this book is about Hamnet and how the play gets developed because of his death. Another strange thing is the incoporation of magical realism of some sort. Additionally, all of the characters, besides Agnes, were flat and one-dimensional. So when Hamnet dies, I just didn't care. There is no connection, because we only get to see him for a few short chapters before he dies and the rest is basically about his mother. The ending was also quite rushed and underwhelming in my opinion. We find out that Shakespeare wrote said play about his son (which we have know for the entirety of the book!) and then it just ends. 

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