30 Hamnet Book Club Questions And Discussion Guide
Welcome to the Hamnet book club questions and discussion guide. This is a classic novel by Maggie O’Farrell. It has captivated readers with its atmospheric and emotive portrayal of love, loss, and grief. It tells the story of William Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, and their young son, Hamnet.
The novel centers around the loss of Hamnet and the grief that follows. We hope that these questions will provide a jumping-off point for a rich exploration of the novel with your fellow book club members. Before reading the club questions you can read the synopsis of the book below if you like.
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell book synopsis
There are pains that art cannot portray. Except in some cases, they become masterpieces: paintings, sculptures, movies, songs, and novels. Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet is destined to become a masterpiece. The novel gave voice to Shakespeare’s family drama. The novel focused on the wife of the most brilliant playwright. And far from falling into cheap sentiments or another pink book, O’Farrell takes it into the sublime category.
The year 1596, Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Agnes lives a peaceful life with her husband and three children. She cultivates medicinal plants while William works in London. But, fate dealt them a heavy blow. Their eleven-year-old son Hamnet dies suddenly after contracting the plague.
As a result of this tragedy, his father creates one of the great characters of world literature. The name of the character is almost identical to that of his son. This book is not about famous events, but about something close and forgotten. It is about the life of this family, and especially of the woman who supported it and suffered an unbearable loss.
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O’Farrell is a magnificent writer, for many critics, it was the best novel of 2021. Everything she describes is perfect. The sentences flow between scenes with a strong emotional charge. At the same time, the reading is also agile and creative.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if what O’Farrell is saying is true or a figment of her imagination. Fiction and reality blur as tenderness, pain, flaw, and loss take center stage.
Hamnet book club questions to discuss
We can’t wait to hear what you think about Hamnet. Here are some discussion questions to get you started. These questions will help get you thinking about the characters, the plot, and the themes of the novel.
1. What are your first impressions of Hamnet?
2. The picture on the cover of the book shows Hamnet with wings over his eyes. What is the purpose of this picture?
3. What did you think of the unusual structure of the novel? Was it effective in telling the story? Did any part of the book confuse you?
4. O’Farrell did not mention the name of William Shakespeare in the book, but only mentioned it by reference. Why did she think it necessary to do so?
5. What did you think of the characters in the novel? John, Hamnet, Judith, Agnes, Joan, …who was your favorite?
6. Which character did you understand better? And which one did you hate?
7. Which character did you most identify with in the novel?
8. How do you see the character of Agnes? And also the role of her husband? Why did the author consider it necessary to show her character as a healer? Do you think there is any factual historical basis for Agnes’ healing?
9. How do you think the grief over Hemnet’s death affects Agnes and her husband’s relationship?
10. Why did William go to London instead of staying with his family when Hamnet died?
11. Agnes did not get on with her mother-in-law Mary, what do you think about this?
12. Was Hemant the reason they were all together? So how did Hemnet’s death affect others?
13. As we know Hamnet and Judith were twin siblings and twins always have a special bond. Have you ever seen such twin siblings in your life? If so, do you think the author has accurately portrayed the relationship between Hamnet and Judith in this book? Or did you miss something? Can a twin really sacrifice himself for his other twin?
14. At the beginning of the book, we see John hiding bales of wool in the attic. Why was he doing this?
15. Did the book make you feel any emotions? If so, which ones? Or did it make you think about death and grief in a new way?
16. What did you think of Maggie O’Farrell’s writing style? Did you enjoy the way she told the story?
17. Did O’Farrell’s choice of words or style of writing affect your feeling? How so?
18. What was the purpose of not capitalizing on specific names in the book’s second half?
19. How do you think the rest of the book will unfold? What are your predictions?
20. The novel is set in the 16th century, but do you think it has something to say about our time?
21. What did you think of the historical accuracy of the novel?
22. Did you find the historical sections of the book to be interesting? Did they add to your understanding of the story?
23. What do you think is the significance of the fact that Hamnet is named after Shakespeare’s contemporary, Hamnet Sadler?
24. How did you feel when you read the final chapter of Hamnet?
25. What did you think of the ending of the book? Were you satisfied with how things wrapped up? Or did the ending surprise you?
26. How do you think Maggie O’Farrell wanted readers to feel when they reached the end of the novel?
27. What do you think is the significance of the fact that Hamnet is able to read?
28. If you could ask Maggie O’Farrell one question about Hamnet, what would it be?
29. If you were to compare Hamnet to another book, which one would it be?
30. Would you recommend this book to others? Why or why not?
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Hamnet book club questions | Conclusion
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell is a book that will keep you up at night. It’s a haunting and atmospheric read that will stay with you long after you finish the last page. We hope these club questions and discussion guide for the Hamnet book will be useful for you and also your group. If you’ve read the book, what did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below! For those who haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? Pick up a copy today.