“That’s what you do while you hold their feverish hands and stroke their foreheads in the hospital room, but despite everything they slip gently away from you, into the dark backward and abysm of time.”
I’ve just finished up Hag-seed. While this beautiful little gem only took me 24 hours to read it has taken me much longer to get to reading it and subsequently writing about it.
Not that I haven’t been reading at all, I’ve been reading (and listening) a lot. I’ve been devouring all manner of instructional guides to raising this little boy of mine. I don’t think at this point they’ll ever be subject to review though,as I do feel you need to read a great many different approaches to the subject and then pick and choose what you feel will be your personal tenet. Notable mentions though will have to include Steve Biddulph’s Raising Boys and Joanna Faber and Julie King’s How to Talk So Little Kids Listen. Reading these and a few others have been easy – I feel I need this information. Reading for pleasure as such has been a bit more difficult.
We had been so nestled in our little post-partum coccoon. Now the boy is 7 months old though and doesn’t want to be restrained into a cosy cuddle with mama all day. He’s been crawling for a few months now and I had been able to comfortably read a book skimming my eyes up every now and then. Instructional books lead to this activity it’s easy to pick up where you left off. There is no “atmosphere” lost. Well just recently he has started to pull himself up and stand. Stand and then subsequently fall down. This does not lend to any activity but to keep close watch near by to cushion the imminent falls – assisting to learn to fall on your cushy little butt not straight backwards on to that beautiful fragile head mama spent so long forming just so! Motherhood is a sedatory occupation.
My problem has been that when I do have a moment to read I don’t,which if I’m being fair I do have a few of those moments. Teddy sleeps long and well with no fuss. When I have those moments I tend to not be drawn into anything enough to abandon other tasks for,such as the washing up (or more likely catch up on tv shows). I needed something that would pull me into my chair to demand I sit and finish. Hag-seed did this.
Hag-seed is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series. It’s Margaret Atwood’s retelling on the play The Tempest. I had only read The Handmaids Tale from Atwood (which I am absolutely obsessed with and the recent TV adaptation series). I have always admired her though and have wanted to read more of her work. I’m a Shakespeare enthusiast so this was a good opener for me. I would have to say I felt curious about how this book would actually go about the retelling as to be honest i had only ever thought of the Tempest in its original form and hadn’t actually been that interested in it as a play.
The plot! As soon as I started reading this book I felt completely in awe of Atwood.She has geniusly crafted the plot of this story in a most unexpected way. One of the themes of the Tempest is “prisons” so our main character Felix (who mirrors Prospero) works in a prison. We get his back story , he is a fallen theatre director, a widower and has lost his only child ( aptly named Miranda). Initially his endgame appears to be to just float into in-existence however when given some unexpected news his mind begins to gravitate to vengeance. I wont lay out the whole story line but i really felt that although with every “retelling” you do have a sense of how the story MUST go to be faithful this took some delightful turns and twists that I really didn’t feel I saw coming. The idea of the story of someone producing a play and then that story playing out in the characters real world life isn’t new but this was enchanting and not the same old same old. Part of this is most likely because Felix knows his life is that of Prospero’s and chooses to produce The Tempest in an attempt to bring life again to his Miranda.
This engaging plot, sprinkled with beautiful prose captured me completely. There were some issues for me – the ending was quick and packaged a little too neat and tidy for me personally (but then i’m not sure there was much choice there). The pieces of “rap” were very clever but did make me cringe a little. (I’m sorry!!!) I know Margaret Atwood has done a lot of research into literacy in prison programs and values them greatly but sometimes there were some very thinly veiled appeals to the real world to keep these programs and that’s OK but these parts didn’t particularly add to the story line in an interesting way
Overall I enjoyed this so immensely and I would recommend to anyone, especially Shakespeare fans.