I received an early proof of this book from the wonderful Georgina Moore and while I was reading it I was wondering what the Bard himself might make of such a story. Then, seemingly unbidden, the thought came into my head that I should write my review in Shakespearian style. And once that idea took hold I couldn’t let go of it. Apologies to Shakespeare devotees everywhere. I mean no harm!!
Scene 1 HEAVEN
HAMNET: Father, father. I have news!
SHAKESPEARE: You are well met, beloved son. What news?
HAMNET: Sire, a lady who doth dwell upon the earthly plain hast composed a history of myself and divers others in our family.
SHAKESPEARE: Zounds, you jest, you bulls puzzle. Know you not how it doth hurt my heart to consider those days. When you passed though nature to eternity this thought was as death to me.
HAMNET: But father, verily, t’is good! She has captured the humours of our family with a pen as swift as a kestrel’s flight. Her words do dance gladly upon the very parchment whereon she consigned this full and virtuous account of our doings…… and our undoings.
SHAKESPEARE: What name doth this wench bestow upon herself?
HAMNET: Sirrah. She is named Maggie O’Farrell.
SHAKESPEARE: T’is a name I know not, my son. A language unknown to me. What tell you of her?
HAMNET: Father, her writing flows like the streams in spring, the snows in winter and the leaves of the rowan tree. She is resplendent with words of wisdom and wonder. She doth paint the most comely word pictures. Mine mother is brought to wondrous life and I confess I shook the water from my heavenly eyes.
SHAKESPEARE: Ah, sweet Agnes. My son, permit me to weep. For to weep is to make less the depth of grief.
HAMNET: And, my lord, she dost speak of my sister, Judith, with words so real I felt the tremors of that day haunt me once more.
SHAKESPEARE: Where is this book, my son? For to pore upon a book, to seek the light of truth…….
HAMNET: Here, father. Take.
SHAKESPEARE: O heaven! that one might read the book of fate, and see the revolution of the times.
Exit Hamnet. Stage right.
SHAKESPEARE: But soft, what manner of woman is this who dost know me so well having never met?
Truly I am undone at the knowledge she dost possess of mine and mine life.
Verily she hath studied well and studiously those details wherein my life doth takes its course.
Why tis as if I am some spirit floating, witnessing the passage of my days.
My father? She has surely some witch’s insight to see him so clearly.
And my sweet mother, how doth this earthly lady know of her toil and many tribulations.
I seize upon Mistress O’ Farrell’s words and wonder at her skill.
For here, too, are my brothers and sisters,
Sweet brethren, you walk upon the earth again
Brought to life by this sharp, sweet pen.
Exit Shakespeare. Stage left.
Scene Two HEAVEN. One day later.
HAMNET: How now, Father, how art thou?
SHAKESPEARE: My son, my son, I am undone. This book hast opened my heart. The Lady Maggie has weaved her words into the fabric of my soul. How is’t she knows that when I left Stratford for London the parting was such sweet sorrow? For she has given word to my feelings such as I should be hard pressed to do for myself.
HAMNET: If reading be the food of love, Father, read on, have excess of it!
SHAKESPEARE: Forsooth! Think you not that I could put this book down? I have read each word ten times and more besides. My heart is replete with thankfulness. This lady hast granted me vision to see outside mine and myself.
Exit Hamnet. Stage right.
SHAKESPEARE: Alas poor Hamnet, I knew him.
A plague upon our house did take him.
My son, his earthly passing did harm my heart.
He could not hold mortality’s strong hand.
And I did hide inside myself.
Oft forgetting the sorrows that did torture the mind of mine dear Agnes.
And I, a man of naught but words, sought solace from my pen.
I did seek to bring him back to life.
For me, his sisters and my wife.
I would just to say that I agree with all Will said and thought it was a very good book! 😜