Did everyone have a lovely weekend? It feels very sneaky of me to write such a thing because technically it’s Friday night even though you won’t read this until Monday morning. Weird, right? The Internet, man. What a place. Anywho, you’ll recall a while back when I told you about Vinegar Girl (review), and how it was a fun retelling of The Taming of the Shrew? I’m happy to report that the Hogarth series is still going strong and I just got my mitts on Margaret Atwood’s contribution, Hag-Seed. It’s a retelling of The Tempest and let me tell you, it’s… Weird. *I received a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration through NetGalley. Because libraries exist and I can also get free books there, you shouldn’t be too suspicious of my intentions here. No penguins exchanged hands, so.*
This series is kind of amazing for me personally, because I suuuuuuck at reading Shakespeare. I can’t do it, I need to see it performed or read a translated to modern vernacular version. I’ve tried to read Shakespeare on my own, but the only plays I’ve ever made it through have been those I studied in school. Nerd fail. Unfortunately, The Tempest isn’t one of the plays we covered in school, nor did it spawn any teen friendly movie versions. Thus, I really had no idea what I was getting into. But, you know. Margaret Atwood? Hard to go wrong there.
In Atwood’s version, the artistic director of a theater troupe is thwarted in his creative endeavors and finds himself living a hermetic life while teaching Shakespeare to inmates in a prison. (Prison seems to be kind of her thing lately… I mean The Heart Goes Last (review)?) Our protagonist turns the inmates into quite an inventive set of actors, directors, and costume designers. Eventually he decides to put on the play that he was working on when he was fired while simultaneously seeking revenge on those who destroyed his career. The play was, of course, The Tempest. Which is also about revenge seeking. It’s a play within a play. Turtles all the way down.
My favorite Atwood has always been dystopian Atwood, but it was quite fun to see her tackle The Bard. Although I finished reading this quite a while ago (because I’m hideously behind schedule) I can’t help but giggle a little when I think of folks attempting to make Shakespeare relevant to a less than enthused audience because Lin-Manuel Miranda, our glorious national treasure, did this on SNL. If you dig Shakespeare retellings or The Tempest, you should totally read this book. And then ruminate on the parallels between Shakespeare and hip hop. And then go listen to Hamilton. Just because.
Talk to me, Bookworms! What’s your favorite Shakespeare play? And is there a movie version available with a rocking soundtrack? Asking for a friend…
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