Where to start? The premise, the language, the way the structure weaves around events and characters. We have all grown up with Shakespeare, but to dive into this historical speculation is a treat nobody should miss. Titled “Hamnet,” after Shakespeare’s 11 year old son who died from the plague (the letter ‘n’ and the letter ‘l’ were interchangeable back then) and presumably the inspiration behind the writing of HAMLET, this novel is a beautiful rendering of the great playwright’s domestic life. His wife, who is historically known to have been named Anne by her father, prefers Agnes and her character is the mainstay of this novel. She is remarkable and unique, gifted with strong intuition and fiercely independent. Her character development is truly beautiful. I particularly enjoyed the rendering of her relationships with her step-mother and mother-in-law, both fraught with tension and managing them critical to her happiness. This is also a heartbreaking tale of losing a child, the most painful loss imaginable and O’Farrell spares nothing in expressing its devastation. I cant recommend this book more highly.