Hamnet - Maggie O'Farrell


By Maggie O'Farrell

  • Release Date: 2020-07-21
  • Genre: Literary
Score: 4.5
From 1,044 Ratings



“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 re-imagining 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.


  • Unexpectedly awesome

    By SpayMart
    I was surprised by how much I loved this
  • Hamnet

    By Klernerfrnkel
    A beautiful story by a gifted writer. Thank you. Never wanted it to end
  • Hamnet

    By kasl or bust
    Compelling story. Hard to put down.
  • Shakespearean insight?

    By noNameMaloy
    I enjoyed “Hamnet” very much. I could picture all the 17th Century life styles of country, small town and London. All the cultural, religious views and medical traditions, ignorance, and prejudices of the day. How the life and death of his own son could influence/inspire the creation of “Hamlet”.
  • This novel is about the plague, not Shakespeare

    By jherlihy13
    Glowing superlative reviews portray this novel as s great work of fiction about Shakespeare’s roots. It is not. It is a poorly written novel about the spreading of the plague, and Hamnet is a minor character. Furthermore, it jumps from times and settings with no clarity as to where you are and what year. I fought through half the book and after reading a dozen pages about how infected fleas jumped from rats to humans, I gave up.
  • Recommend

    By Sunnyislesbeach
    Outstanding details and characters that meld with archetypes and Shakespeare and history. Pleasurable read and I want to reread it immediately.
  • Meh

    By iosnopes
    I suppose some of my disappointment comes from expectations. This is just a novel. The language is good, but earthbound. The plot? If this was about the son of a glove maker in sixteenth century Britain but not Shakespeare, would anybody care? The author lets our fascination with Shakespeare do the heavy lifting.
  • heartbreaking

    By epopovitz
    i almost couldn’t finish as my eyes were blurry with tears. what a great novel.
  • Great writing

    By Cut wood
    It’s not quick to read. But it’s a beautiful book. The characters came alive.
  • Spellbinding, raw; tears at your very soul. I couldn’t put it down.

    By Connie McC
    Maggie O’Farrell’s characterization of the Shakespeare family is gut wrenchingly authentic and beautifully told. Seamlessly moving through time and subplots, she tells this story of loss with such raw emotion, never holding back, letting the reader in on all of the family’s devastation. I was absolutely captivated.