Review: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Hag-Seed and The Tempest

When you read a really good book you find yourself being swept up into the world of the story, and that is exactly what happened when I read Hag-Seed by the wonderful Margaret Atwood. In fact, I fell so far into the story of Hag-Seed that I ended up dreaming about it. Yes, I really did.

Hag-Seed is an extravagant remake of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ and the story starts with our main character ‘Felix’ who is the director at the Makeshiweg Theatre working on Shakespearian plays. However, just as Felix begins work on his version of ‘The Tempest’ he’s told by his rival Tony that he’s been fired and is escorted out along with his items by security. This takes place as Felix is still recovering from the deaths of his wife and 3-year-old daughter.

When Felix’s daughter ‘Miranda’ passes away, his attachment to her is evident through his pretence that she is still alive and is growing older with him, taking part in his everyday life by doing things such as playing chess and talking about each others days. After being fired from his job, Felix finds himself a cheap home to stay in and begins to work in Fletcher Correctional as the host of a literacy programme where he shows the inmates the plays of Shakespeare, teaching them not only the ins-and-outs of the plays, but also how they can perform them and show them to an audience once a year. However, Felix does all of this with revenge for Tony and his former bosses at the Makeshiweg Theatre constantly in his mind. Finally he begins to put this revenge into practise once he starts on ‘The Tempest’ with the Fletcher inmates. And the rest? I’ll leave that for you to find out.

I found a review by The Guardian of this book that says “Atwood choose a set-up which could have been cheesy and turns it into something extraordinary.” I completely agree with this. She somehow managed to make Shakespeare classy. When reading Hag-Seed I recall thinking all the way through ‘How on Earth did she come up with this?’ And that; in my mind, is what makes Margaret Atwood such a genius.

I will admit now that this is the first Margaret Atwood book that I’ve read, but from a Margaret-Atwood-virgin point of view, this is amazing. It’s definitely one of my favourite books and one that I can confidently say that I’ll be reading again.

It’s one of those kind of books that you really struggle to put down and not because it’s so action full, but also because of the beauty and smoothness of the writing. I don’t know how the clever lady does it, but Margaret really has managed to perfect the trick of gripping her reader with just the way she writes her novels. She truly is legendary.