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What to expect

WINNER OF THE 2020 WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION – THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
‘Richly sensuous… something special’ The Sunday Times
‘A thing of shimmering wonder’ David Mitchell

TWO EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE. A LOVE THAT DRAWS THEM TOGETHER. A LOSS THAT THREATENS TO TEAR THEM APART.

On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

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 one of the children will not survive the week.

Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright. It is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink by grief. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker’s son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves. Above all, it is a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.

(P)2020 Headline Publishing Group Ltd

Critics Review

  • Stunning. The writing is exquisite, immersive and compelling… deserves to win prizes

  • The story of Hamnet Shakespeare has been waiting in the shadows for over four hundred years. Maggie O’Farrell brings it dazzlingly, devastatingly, into the light

  • Grief and loss so finely written I could hardly bear to read it

  • Heartstopping. Hamnet does for the Shakespeare story what Jean Rhys did for Jane Eyre, inhabiting, enlarging and enriching it in ways that will alter the reader’s view for ever

  • Blisteringly brilliant… You’ll lap up this intricately told story of grief, love and the bond between twins

    Cosmopolitan
  • [A] rich imagining of the lives of Shakespeare’s family enchants… O’Farrell’s remarkable novel bursts with life

    Sunday Telegraph

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