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A Play within a Play Worthy of the Bard Himself


by Margaret Atwood

Crown Publishing


Literary Fiction

Pub Date 11 Oct 2016


Readers can always expect something exceptional when they open a book by Margaret Atwood. Like her previous novel , Hag-seed has imprisonment both voluntary and involuntary as a central concept. Ingeniously, Atwood reworks Shakespeare's The Tempest, making Felix's reality mirror Prospero's long before he enacts his revenge through his production of The Tempest. Once a cutting edge theater director, Felix has been forced out into obscurity, living in exile with only his imagined daughter for company. Redemption and opportunity come in the form of the local prison's literacy through literature program. Here, Felix introduces Shakespeare, creating vivid productions featuring the inmates taking his classes. Fortune eventually smiles, granting Felix the opportunity to have his revenge on those who wronged him and produce his greatest work, an innovative retelling of The Tempest.

Margaret Atwood challenges the reader to explore the boundaries between art and madness, to move beyond literal interpretations to see alternate explanations. Personally, I think Hag-seed would make a wonderful addition to the syllabus of an Introduction to Shakespeare course or to a high school reading list. Like the theatrical production it describes, Hag-seed takes us on a thought provoking journey, encouraging us to seek freedom from the prison of our preconceptions. Quite simply - Hag-seed is fantastic. Don't be discouraged by the novel's slow start. The stage must be set before the play begins.


I received a copy of Hag-Seed from the publisher and in exchange for an honest review.



William Shakespeare's The Tempest retold as Hag-Seed

Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he's staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds.

Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge.

After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It's magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?

Margaret Atwood's novel take on Shakespeare's play of enchantment, retribution, and second chances leads us on an interactive, illusion-ridden journey filled with new surprises and wonders of its own.

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