Book Club Reflections
If we had to share where Hamnet and Judith by Irish-British author, Maggie O'Farrell truly shines, it is in the vivid portrayal of grief and loss and how one comes to terms with it.
From the opening scene, the novel sets an ominous tone foreshadowing what will unfold:
“Every life has its kernel, its hub, its epicentre, from which everything flows out, to which everything returns. This moment is the absent mother’s: the boy, the empty house, the deserted yard, the unheard cry.”….”It will lie at her very core, for the rest of her life.”
This is not a novel where someone dies and then a chapter later, we are on to a new scene. This novel expands upon the moments of grief, pushes up against the limits of despair, and takes us on a harrowing journey as if we have personally witnessed and lived the loss. 😢
“The trick is never to let down your guard. Never think you are safe. Never take for granted that your children's hearts beat, that they sup milk, that they draw breath, that they walk and speak and smile and argue and play.”
This is a story about Agnes. Her strength. Her grief. Her marriage. Her family. Her children.
O’Farrell, writes about the effects of the bubonic plague showing us how when we think we have control over our life, we ultimately do not. COVID-19, like the plague, doesn’t discriminate. It can strike at us when we least expect it, cause us heart-wrenching grief, and change our way of being in the world, lingering in our collective conscious for quite some time to come.
"She knows that for the girl child, the door leading out of the room of the living is ajar."
"Death is violent, death is a struggle. The body clings to life, as ivy to a wall, and will not easily let go, will not surrender its grip without a fight."