Random Review: A Shakespeare Novel to Discuss | Books and Literature


Marjorie Sandor of Corvallis will be reviewing “Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague”, as part of Friends of the Library’s Random Review series on Wednesday. The program will take place online through GoToWebinar. It’s free but registration is required on https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5779308411839845900.

“Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell is a gripping historical fiction novel about William Shakespeare’s family life in the late medieval English village of Stratford-Upon-Avon. From the very few historical details available, O’Farrell conjures a gritty and poetic life of the playwright (who is never named) and his family, and a heartbreaking portrayal of the parents’ grief after the death of their 11-year-old son. . .

O’Farrell tells the story in two parts, one starting the morning Hamnet’s twin sister falls with the bubonic plague, the other a flashback to their parents’ yard, both misfit.

“Hamnet,” published in 2020, is O’Farrell’s eighth novel. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and one of the Times Review of Books’ Best Books of 2020.

Sandor is the author of five books which include personal essays, short stories, a memoir (“The Late Interiors: A Life Under Construction”) and most recently a debut novel “The Secret Music of Tordesillas” in 2020. She is professor emeritus. in English and Creative Writing at Oregon State University School of Writing, Literature, and Film. She and her husband, author Tracy Daugherty, co-founded OSU’s Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing. The two shared the Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award from the Oregon Book Awards in 2018.

Sandor’s personal essay book “The Night Gardener: A Search for Home” won the 2000 Oregon Book Award for Literary Nonfiction, and his storybook “Portrait of My Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime” received the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction for 2004.

Following: On December 12, Abby Metzger reviews “The Address Book: What Street Addresses Tell About Identity, Race, Wealth and Power” by Deirdre Mask.


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