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Hamnet

Narrated by: Daisy Donovan
Length: 10 hrs and 31 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (611 ratings)

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Summary

Winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020

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 11. 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.

©2020 Maggie O'Farrell (P)2020 Headline Publishing Group Ltd

What listeners say about Hamnet

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Narrator fights writing and wins (sadly)

A very strange choice of voice for the narration, and style of speaking. Style-wise, the pace is so fast, that the poetry of the writing can't be absorbed. The voice is bland, modern, all surface, lacking in depth, more suited to a consumer affairs or news programme, than this work. This work needs more room to breathe and a voice that registers the deep feeling of life, rather than rushes on endlessly to find the next word in a shopping list.

The writing itself is most interesting, fleshing out the possible family life, domestic life, of the women in one Will Shakespeare's life and throwing out suggestions about his writing. I will read this novel myself rather than listen to a narration which takes so much away from the writing.

22 people found this helpful

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Good story but...

I’m afraid I couldn’t get along with the narration at all - nothing wrong with it as a performance but completely clashed with the ‘voice’ of the book and made me wish I’d just read it instead of listened to it, when everything else I’ve had on audible I’ve felt the opposite

15 people found this helpful

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A wonderful book

I loved this book. Every word was perfect. Elizabethan life was portrayed in fascinating detail. The grief felt (differently) by each character was detailed with such searing clarity that I was often brought to tears. One of the best books I’ve ever read.

11 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Absolutely brilliant.

A 5* novel if ever there was one. Maggie O'Farrell brings to life of the Shakespeare family in Stratford-on-Avon before William moves permanently to London in a powerful, moving story of love, loyalty, being different, having dreams, family strife, ghosts and the ups and downs of married life.
When the Shakespeare's beloved son Hamnet dies of the plague, William cannot cope with the loss and removes himself more and more from family life. When his wife hears that he has written a play about their son she travels to London to confront Shakespeare about it.
Brilliantly written and narrated. I felt as if I was right there in Tudor times, living with a family confronting its own demons and aspirations.

11 people found this helpful

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Awful narrator

I’ve only managed about half an hour of this book and I’m giving up. It really hasn’t gripped me in terms of the writing, plus the narrator has such a modern voice it just doesn’t sound at all right for the period in which this book is set. I keep coming across audiobooks with poor narration, it’s very frustrating.

11 people found this helpful

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Great story. Disappointing narrator.

A well-written story about grief and loss, that is let down by a narrator who appears not to have given it the close reading it deserves before embarking upon it’s telling. The lines are loaded with emotion, but the narrator rushes through them like an actor doing the first read-through of a script - which is ironic, given the novel’s poignant connection with Shakespeare’s masterpiece and it’s protagonist.

9 people found this helpful

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Fact and fiction interwoven

Knowing very little about William Shakespeare’s personal life - his marriage, his children, his childhood, his family, I was immediately enthralled by this fascinating tale - part fact, predominantly fiction and left wondering exactly where one began and the other ended. Maggie O’Farrell has built upon the information we know about Shakespeare’s family life and created a vivid and enthralling picture of his home, family and background in Stratford. All without once mentioning his name! Women form the backbone of this story and the vivid reality of their hard life – birthing, healing, caring for children, washing, preparing food, managing a household, holding together home, husband and family and through their voice creates a narrative relevant for all times. Although clearly rooted in a 16th century background this timeless story has something to speak to for all times about love, loss, heartbreak, longing, despair and hope. I loved the performance by Daisy Donovan, bringing it easily to life, not only in my ear but in my minds eye. Well worth listening to.

7 people found this helpful

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over hasty narration

Great book. HUGE issue with its narration. The narrator does a good job of delivering dialogue. However am truly baffled that whoever directed / produced this audiobook did not ask her to stop dashing her way manically (although admittedly with decent enunciation) through everything else. The prose needed a bit of room to breathe. I even tried the slower setting but it just sounded as if the narrator had taken a sedative so went back to the galloping. Not surprised to see that many others have made similar comments. Having listened to dozens of audio books this is the speediest prose i have ever encountered!

7 people found this helpful

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Breathtaking

Fascinating story and well written. I loved the extensive description of the country around, and town of, Stratford upon Avon. The vivid pictures of the life, the people and complex feelings of love, loss and discovery carried me from the start to the end of the journey that I felt I was taking with Anyis. Loved it.

5 people found this helpful

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Loved this book

I absolutely loved this book, I found it by chance and having enjoyed Maggie o Farrell before I thought I’d give it a go, not a subject matter I knew anything about but really captivating, well read and gripping.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-06-20

comments

loved it. great narration. read with clarity and great understanding of the plot. bring alive the characters. a great job done. thanks.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jane F. Clifton
  • 31-07-20

Superb listening

One of the best listens, so far. Daisy Donovan's precision delivery of Maggie O'Farrell's wonderful imaging of this story is a singular pleasure in these troubled times of modern plague.

1 person found this helpful