If I had to write a one-word review of Maggie O’Farrell’s book, Hamnet, I would simply say “Wow.” I would write more if I could stop crying, but I was powerfully moved by this story, and it’s going to stay with me for a long time. And it’s okay to cry.
It is a story about grief…so beautifully described, so honestly told. It is the story of William Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, and his death at age 11. It was a devastating death for his family, as such a loss would be for any family, and the author includes you as one who feels the loss intensely.
How were they to know that Hamnet was the pin holding them together? That without him they would all fragment and fall apart, like a cup shattered on the floor?
Read it. The writing is mesmerizing, beautiful, gripping, profound. But be prepared to cry, because you become totally immersed in the emotional honesty of this world created by Maggie O’Farrell. And then read Shakespeare’s Hamlet again, from a new vantage point, which is what I am going to do now.
“Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince;
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. ”