Hamnet

It’s about grief. How losing a child would affect different members of the family, especially the mother. And this is not an ordinary child, this is Hamnet, by which Shakespeare’s play Hamlet was inspired. Hamnet was Shakespeare’s son.

There is not much in this book about the life of the great poet, playwright and actor as Shakespeare is already familiar to most people. He’s referred to as the son, the husband, the father in relation to his family. A big portion of the book is about his wife. Isn’t it fascinating, to think that Shakespeare had a wife? How come for all the years I heard and learnt about him, I never knew anything about his wife or that he even had a wife? Let alone children. Shakespeare had three children. What would it be like having a celebrity like Shakespeare as a father?

It’s certainly a fascinating topic. But this is not a historical drama that is full of twists and turns. It’s a quiet story about two young people in love, difficult family relationships, grief from losing a child and how that affects the relationship between the parents etc.

It’s beautifully written as everybody says. Each scene is played out almost as if I’m looking through a camera lens, as if this novel is readily-written to be turned into a TV series, frame by frame. But as a novel, I found it has too much style and not enough substance. For a subject as complicated and age old as death and grief, the story stays on the surface and feels quite dull. There are some gems, but not enough to lift it overall.

I don’t recommend it. But if you’re interested reading it, I would go for the paperback. The hardback has such big font sizes and spacious page layout, it’s unnecessarily thick and therefore more expensive than needed.

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