Publisher: Tinder Press
Weight: 420 g
Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London.
Neither parent knows that Hamnet will not survive the week.
Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright: a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.
This was an amazing historical fiction that is purportedly about Hamnet, a certain famous playwright's son, set in the 1590s. I say purportedly because it's really about Hamnet's family and how they deal with the loss of a beloved child.
This is a melancholic and speculative look into how Hamnet's family members dealt with his death, and it's a heart-wrenching one. While it took me a while to warm up to it--due to the jumping timeline and me going into this completely blind and not realizing that this was about Shakespeare's son until I was 100+ pages into it (yes, I'm dumb like that)--I really enjoyed the almost sedate pace. Maggie O'Farrell's writing is lovely and descriptive and sometimes I just took a moment to appreciate how she sets the stage for the next act (ha, get it, ok I'll shut up now). I really liked the way she lets the story unfold, which is evident in that one chapter where she showed how the sickness came to Hamnet's house.
I came out of this absolutely loving Agnes & Bartholomew, so much so that I just went Shakespeare who? Because at the heart of it, I really do think this is a story about Agnes first and foremost, and I loved that, loved that O'Farrell decided to take such an interesting subject to weave a story around her and her more infamous husband. I don't pretend to know if this is an accurate take because I'm not a Shakespeare fangirl. What I do know is that Maggie O'Farrell has done a phenomenal job in portraying Agnes and the rest of the characters here, and I loved this take of what might have happened to the family following Hamnet's death.
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