It has taken me quite a while to get around to reading any more of Margaret Atwood’s extensive collection of work. It has nothing to do with her or her writing but more to do with the dreaded dissertation. I know, I know it has been an age since I finished that (a little over a year according to Facebook memories) but it is something that is hard to shake. I still loved Margaret Atwood after writing 10,000 words on her but I wanted to enjoy the some more of her books as a reader, rather than a literature student.
What that meant is that I deliberately took some time away from her books and then promptly forgot about them in the mammoth TBR that I have been trying to tackle in the last couple of months. Once that shrunk a little, I was able to see Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed again and decided to finally read it.
I was not disappointed.
But that’s getting a little far ahead, isn’t it?
For those of you that don’t know, Hag-Seed is a retelling of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. In fact, it’s a retelling on multiple levels. There are distinct parallels between Prospero and Felix, the protagonist of Atwood’s novel. After losing his job as a theatre director, Felix goes into isolation. He eventually emerges to put on his own show of The Tempest at the prison where he now works.
Now, I’m not the biggest fan of Shakespeare so I was a little worried that the links would be overdone but, thankfully, they weren’t. I was able to really enjoy Hag-Seed in its own right, even though I don’t know The Tempest fantastically well. I’m sure that there was probably a couple of references that I missed but it certainly didn’t take away from such a wonderful novel if there was. I could simply enjoy the absurdity of Felix and his ‘big plans’, getting swept up in the enthralling characters and intriguing plot.
To risk dancing on dissertation papers for a moment, Margaret Atwood has done retellings beautifully, crafting them into something uniquely hers. Hag-Seed is yet another example of her mastery of that craft.