Once again we share a synopsis from our recent Members' bookclub - this time on Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell.
This month's book: "Hamnet", by Maggie O'Farrell.
The setting: Warwickshire - a town identifiable as Stratford on Avon.
What's it about: A boy (who is never named but variously referred to as the tutor...the husband...the father) falls in love as a teenager with the much older Agnes when he visits the home of her well-to-do father to teach Latin to her younger half-siblings. She fascinates him with her kestrel, combination of illiteracy with knowledge of the countryside lore, and herbalism. The two have a shotgun wedding followed by the birth of twins - Hamnet and Judith. When the father is away pursuing his important career in London and the mother is busy collecting herbs, the girl is struck down by what turns out to be the plague; the frantic boy cannot find help. Full of self-guilt, the boy wills himself to take his sister’s place and dies, while she survives, a sickly invalid...
Based on the life of William Shakespeare's son.
Thoughts from our bookclubbers:
- "a love story that twisted and turned"
- "the story [was] very sad"
- "liked the richness of the language used and descriptions"
- "the author showed a lot of imagination"
Our bookclubbers' score: 7-9/10
Our bookclubbers' other reads:
- Richard Osman - “Thursday Murder Club”
- Hannah Rothschild - “The Improbability of Love”
- Vanessa Green - “The Seafront Tea Rooms”
- Marian Keyes - “Grown Ups”
- Donna Leon - “The Waters of Eternal Youth”
- Alex Garland - ”The Beach”
- Rumer Godden - “Black Narcissus”
- Donna Tartt - “The Secret History”
- C J Box - “Free Fire"
- John Grisham - "A Time for Mercy”
- Simon Kernick - “We Can See You”
- Jane Austen - “Emma”
- Joseph Persico - "Roosevelt’s Secret War”
Please note: all comments and opinions are from our bookclub members and are not the views of the Rotary Club of Canterbury, nor are any of the books mentioned endorsed by the Club. Imagery is used under the terms of fair use for review. Publisher: Tinder Press (Published April 2021).