Hamnet is a painstakingly beautiful book about grief. While in fact, the book tells the fictional tale about the son of William Shakespeare, the main focus is around how Hamnet (or Hamlet) died while only being 11 years of age. And how four years later his father wrote a play we all presently know as “Hamlet”.
This historical fiction was like a little eye-opener for us. We knew very little about William’s roots, wife and children. The author masterfully draws attention away from what we know about Shakespeare’s life and focuses on what we don’t. Things about violent father, glove business, the birth of children and unbearable grief after his 11-year-old died of the plague.
Reading the Hamnet is sometimes like taking a little trip. One of the most impressive sections was dedicated to telling a story about how plague reached Will’s family. A peculiar set of events, composed of monkeys, cats, sailors and marbles. Equally brilliant were descriptions of 16th century London and extraordinary journeys of letters in Tudor England.
One of the most interesting points we discussed was why the name William or Shakespeare was never mentioned in the book. We concluded that otherwise it would be difficult for the reader not to think about Shakespeare as the main character. The author wanted the readers to focus on the little boy and not his father. Another question we tried to answer was what the last line of the book meant: Remember Me. While taken straight away from the play Hamlet, we decided that Shakespeare wrote the line for himself. A way to immortalize his son.
Hamnet is a beautiful book. Mesmerizing and vivid. Full of emotion and utterly stunning. However, it could be prolonged at times, and you won’t find a lot of action between pages. This could put off quite a few readers, but we would highly recommend to pick it up and find out by yourselves.
4.5 stars out of 5 combined
4 stars from 🧔
5 stars from 👩🏻🦰