I’ll be honest – I didn’t get Hamnet for the first half of the novel. I didn’t make the link and I felt like nothing was really worth happening. But then it clicked: I’m not here for plot twists or high-intense action moments, I’m here for the building story and the absolutely stunning writing. Hamnet is a must-read if you’re a fan of reading.

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell book review
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Hamnet centres around the tale of Agnes and her family in 1596. Hamnet’s sister is ill in her bed, where are his parents? It’s a tale of loss, grief, and the struggles that these can bring.

Plot – 4.5/5

As I mentioned above, I’ll admit, I was confused as to the purpose when I first started reading it. I loved the writing, I was enjoying being taken on a journey but I honestly wasn’t sure where it was heading. However, you begin to get a better understanding about halfway through, and then it really grips you by the heart and doesn’t let go. It’s a truly wonderful tale that Maggie O’Farrell tells you in a truly incredible way.

This is one of those novels where not a vast amount of things happen, but it takes place over many years. We explore Agnes and Hamnet’s father’s young long and their struggles to wed. We explore the difficulties of making money during those times, putting food on the table for loved ones, and the sacrifices that must be made to truly make it in the world. We also, as mentioned above get taken on a true emotional rollercoaster. This is a book to be truly admired for the way it describes and details the internal struggles and moments that happen throughout its pages.

Characters – 5/5

This isn’t a book about deep characters, but about the way in which they interact with one another. The way Maggie O’Farrell portrays these very real and believable reactions and emotions that the characters feel immerses you in their struggles. These humans aren’t perfect, they make mistakes, they argue, they get things wrong and they’re sometimes mean. However, it makes you like them more as it makes them so much more believable.

As none of the characters are people I’d consider truly “enjoyable” and so I can’t give them five out of five. This may receive some criticism as it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the novel as a whole. However, enjoyable characters are something that authors have to think about when writing novels. I liked them for their honesty and down-to-earth…ness, but none of them made me laugh out loud or made me fall in love with them. So four will have to do.

Hamnet summary – 5/5

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell is a fantastic book. It took me a minute to truly understand what I was reading but when I finally got the grips with it, I simply couldn’t stop. I think I read the last 100 pages in a day, I was picking up the audiobook at every gap in my day and listening so I could just involve myself with the turmoil of these characters.

If you’re looking for something with action, guns or explosions, this isn’t the book for you. If you’re looking for something beautifully written that could well become a modern classic, then I’d pick up Hamnet. You’ll experience poetic writing, relatable characters and the struggles that real humans face every day, no matter what time they’re from.


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