Maggie O'Farrell
Best Contemporary Women’s Fiction: Six Novels

Best Contemporary Women’s Fiction: Six Novels

Six novels in one volume—including Ann Patchett (The Magician's Assistant), Elizabeth Benedict, Jenna Blum, Molly Gloss, Nicole Mones, and Maggie O'Farrell (The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox)—a deal.

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Hamnet

Hamnet

In her sweeping new novel, Maggie O’Farrell takes a few historically known facts about Shakespeare’s wife and family and, from this spare skeleton, builds out a lush, vivid world. You should know this book is devastating, and I consumed the better part of a box of Kleenex while reading it. Yet with its captivating central character and evocative storytelling, I didn’t want to leave Shakespeare’s world—or put down O’Farrell’s writing. The story centers on Agnes, Shakespeare’s wife, who is torn apart by grief when their son Hamnet dies at age 11. Soon after, Shakespeare writes Hamlet—and O’Farrell convincingly posits that the two events are closely tied. In her distinctive style, O’FarrellI takes you to the heart of what really matters in life, making you feel such a deep sense of loss for Hamnet that you won’t look at your own life the same way.

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Instructions for a Heatwave

Instructions for a Heatwave

$11.99$1.99

I picked this up after reading—and loving—O'Farrell's newest novel, This Must Be the Place (a 2018 MMD winter Book Club selection!). During a record-setting heatwave, the patriarch of an Irish family clears out his bank account and disappears, leaving his family to puzzle out where he went, and why. Reminiscent of The Dry for its oppressive, atmospheric heat, and Ann Patchett's Commonwealth for its fraught sibling relationships.

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This Must Be the Place

This Must Be the Place

This is the story of an unlikely but successful marriage between a floundering American professor and a British film star who hated the limelight so much she faked her own death and disappeared ... until an unexpected bit of news, twenty years old but newly discovered, threatens to unravel everything they've built together. Family stories are commonplace in fiction, but I love this one for its intricate plotting, nuanced characters, true-to-life feel, and ultimate hopefulness.

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I Am, I Am, I Am

I Am, I Am, I Am

In O'Farrell's new memoir-of-sorts, she tells the story of her life through seventeen brushes with death. I didn't quite believe the premise when I first heard it (Seventeen brushes? Really?), but O'Farrell doesn't mess around with this heart-pounding collection, in which she recounts near-misses with car accidents, murderers, anaphylaxis, a childhood bout with encephalitis, and more. There's obviously some sensitive content here, but I'd like to especially point out that O'Farrell's heart-rending essay on miscarriage is some of the finest writing I've seen on the subject (a subject that's not covered enough in literature). Release date: February 6 2018.

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