Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Review: Hag-Seed

Hag-Seed Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood is a retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest with all of its magic and revenge. The premise in Atwood's version is a spurned theater director named Felix whose sole wish is to put on a grand version of The Tempest for an audience at a festival to somehow honor his dead daughter, named after one of the main characters in the play. When that opportunity is taken away from Felix, he hides out of sight for years and plots his revenge on the community leaders and politicians that stole his thunder. Eventually, this leads Felix into the local prison system, giving classes and putting on performances with prisoners. It is here where Felix wants to exact his revenge.

This was my first Atwood book, and I'm afraid that it was the wrong choice, because I've heard so many good things about this author. This book tried to be meta, but putting The Tempest within The Tempest was a little overkill. This plot could have worked with Felix directing almost any play with a revenge plot and it would have had the desired affect.

The other reason I wanted to read this is because I've never read The Tempest (you can thank my public school education for that) and I do need a bit of hand-holding every time I approach Shakespeare with its archaic language. I often read (or watch) retellings and interpretations while approaching Shakespeare so that I know I'm understanding the plot. As for what happens in The Tempest, this book didn't help me understand at all what was going on, at least not until I reached the last ten pages or so of the book where Atwood included a summary of the play's plot.

I'm not sure that those who love The Tempest or Atwood's other work would necessarily want to flock to this book. More than seventy-five percent of the book moves at a snail's pace, and the one exciting part is overshadowed by the immediate following of long reports that the prisoners give on the characters post-play. It's not pleasure reading by any means, and should probably only be approached by those who want to study it and figure out what went wrong.

*Copy of book provided by NetGalley

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