finished reading

This is masterful storytelling.  I was drawn into the atmosphere.  The narrative is not linear but it is easy to follow--weaving the thread of the plague first afflicting Judith and her twin brother, Hamnet, and the second thread of their parents' passionate love.  Ultimately, it's a family drama: the love story between Agnes and her never-named husband William Shakespeare, the love story between parents and children. And it is the story of love surviving grief.

It's beautiful.  I have to admit I put off reading it because, skeptically, I didn't think it would live up to the hype.  But it did.

From the publisher:
A thrilling departure: A short, piercing, deeply moving new novel from the acclaimed author of I Am, I Am, I Am, about the death of Shakespeare's eleven-year-old son Hamnet--a name interchangeable with Hamlet in fifteenth-century Britain--and the years leading up to the production of his great play.

England, 1580. A young Latin tutor--penniless, bullied by a violent father--falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman: a wild creature who walks her family's estate with a falcon on her shoulder and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer. Agnes understands plants and potions better than she does people, but once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose gifts as a writer are just beginning to awaken when his beloved young son succumbs to bubonic plague.

A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a hypnotic recreation of the story that inspired one of the greatest literary masterpieces of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing and seductive, an impossible-to-put-down novel from one of our most gifted writers.

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