Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Star rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5 stars
Format: library eaudiobook
Summary: Felix is working on directing a version of The Tempest that is deeply personal to him. After the death of his own daughter, Miranda, he focuses on creating this production as a way to cope with his grief. His dreams are short lived when early into production he is fired and replaced. Felix goes into hiding, living a hermit-like life until he gets a job teaching literature at a local Prison. He has the inmates put on Shakespeare plays and finally starts on his Tempest, with a bit of revenge and vengeance thrown in.
Review: Atwood’s writing really saved this book for me, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have finished it. I don’t really like Prospero at all and the main character was a mirror of him. I hadn’t read the book description prior to reading it so the title made me think it would be about Caliban, which I was all for. I just can’t relate to Prospero at all, I don’t really care for his story or how he rules over the island.
Felix is kind of… I just don’t know what to think of him. He starts seeing his daughter at home but at the same time he knows she’s dead but acts like she isn’t. It’s so strange and never really addressed in the book I feel. He’s also very focused on having his revenge and I kind of didn’t care whether he got his revenge or not. Especially at the end when he was just sort of like “meh, I don’t really want to do this,” when he got his old job back.
I also took issue with the fact that he used the inmates to kidnap and intimidate those who had wronged him. If this hadn’t worked out he could have earned them much longer sentences. I think there was a lot of risk for them and no risk for him in his plan.
The writing is great however, Atwood is one of my favorite authors and I feel as though everything I’ve ever read by her is excellent. While I may not have really liked the character or his story even her writing kept me engaged the whole time.
I think my favorite part of the book is how after the performance, Felix has his class describe what happens to their characters they played after the events of the play itself. The different views of what happens to the characters after the play from the inmates was really interesting, I thought it was a great addition.
Recommendation: Anything by Margaret Atwood is worth a read. I think my own prejudice against Prospero kept me from loving this book absolutely but it was still a good read.