Source: Blogging for Books – I received this in exchange for an honest review.
Series: Hogarth Shakespeare
Edition: Hardcover, 292 Pages
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
When Felix is deposed as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival by his devious assistant and longtime enemy, his production of The Tempest is canceled and he is heartbroken. Reduced to a life of exile in rural southern Ontario—accompanied only by his fantasy daughter, Miranda, who died twelve years ago—Felix devises a plan for retribution.
Eventually he takes a job teaching Literacy Through Theatre to the prisoners at the nearby Burgess Correctional Institution, and is making a modest success of it when an auspicious star places his enemies within his reach. With the help of their own interpretations, digital effects, and the talents of a professional actress and choreographer, the Burgess Correctional Players prepare to video their Tempest. Not surprisingly, they view Caliban as the character with whom they have the most in common. However, Felix has another twist in mind, and his enemies are about to find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever. But how will Felix deal with his invisible Miranda’s decision to take a part in the play?
Hag-Seed is my first Margaret Atwood novel, and I have to say this a pretty awesome introduction to her writing.
Hag-Seed is a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, but you don’t need to know The Tempest or read the other Hogarth Shakespeare books to enjoy this at all. It even has a summary of the play in the back of the book. I love Shakespeare and I love seeing people delve into it and make it their own, because there is so much to work with and Atwood does just that. She creates a retelling of The Tempest within a story that includes a theater director creating his own retelling of The Tempest. I think what really made me enjoy this is that it evokes many of the same feelings and questions that the play itself evokes, especially in terms of Felix’s daughter Miranda.
The play is retold both in the story itself as well as in a play put on within the story, and I think the fact that it’s sort of two retellings in one is pretty brilliant because we get to see two visions of the play come together. I loved how the prisoners changed and adapted The Tempest to really make it into something more fun and easier for them to understand, it includes rap numbers (of which Atwood has written out) and a pretty cool change to Ariel I never thought about. The writing is pretty great and there is a lot of exploration of self going on with Felix that I appreciated, even during his more troubling moments.
Overall I rather like Hag-Seed, it’s a really fun take on Shakespeare that offers a lot of new twists to an old story, and if this is what I can expect from Atwood’s books then I definitely think I’m going to have to give her other novels a try finally.