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Archer Book Club: May 2023

Welcome to the Archer Book Club, or the ABC!

Selection Of The Month

Hamnet by Maggie O' Farrell

From Goodreads:

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.

Zoom Meeting Information

Zoom information will be provided closer to the planned meeting: 12:00pm-1:00pm, May 17th, 2023.

Discussion Points

  1. This book is about William Shakespeare and his family, yet he is never specifically named. He is the husband, son, tutor or brother. Why do you think that the author made this choice?
  2. What do you think is the significance of telling the story from Agnes’s point of view when very little is known about the life of the real Agnes, aka Anne Hathaway?
  3. The book is named for Hamnet, but is it really about him? Is it a multi-generational family story? Is it more about grief and loss? Something else?
  4. What did you think of Agnes’s experience watching Hamlet onstage at the end? Do you think Agnes would be content with the idea that her son’s name will become one of the most remembered names in literary history? Did you think that her husband’s play healed them?
  5. What were your favorite parts of the novel? What were your least favorite parts? Which lines stood out to you?