Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell – Book Review


Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child. 

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet. 

Award-winning author Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.



Set in 1580’s Warwickshire and tells the tale of Agnes.

Agnes is a bit of a unique woman, she kept a Kestrel when she was young, she uses herbs for health, keeps bees and knows things about people, just by touching their hands. She has three children. Susanna and twins, Judith and Hamnet. Her husband works in London, so he is as far away from his brutal father as he can be.

Young Hamnet tragically dies at only 11 years old in the time of plague.

Four years later his father writes a play, Hamlet.

Oh my, this is a beautifully written tale of loss, of grief, the heartbreak at the loss of a child. The language used is gentle and flows perfectly, giving a real sense of time and place, the emotion is palpable.

This really is historical fiction at its finest and is sure to be a classic in the making and Book clubs everywhere will adore it. A truly stunning read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.




Maggie O’Farrell (born 1972, Coleraine Northern Ireland) is a British author of contemporary fiction, who features in Waterstones’ 25 Authors for the Future. It is possible to identify several common themes in her novels – the relationship between sisters is one, another is loss and the psychological impact of those losses on the lives of her characters.


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