Rating: 4.5 / 5
As part of this year’s Around the World in 52 Books reading challenge on Goodreads, I was asked to read a book by Shakespeare or inspired by Shakespeare. I decided to pick up Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST because it was a play I had not read before. In trying to determine how I wanted to tackle another prompt from this list, a book inspired by the “Something Borrowed” part of the wedding rhyme, I decided to pick a book that borrows content from another book. I decided on HAG-SEED by Margaret Atwood which is a retelling of THE TEMPEST.
In HAG-SEED, Felix is forced out of his position as the director of the Makeshiweg Theater Festival, canceling his much anticipated production of The Tempest. Having recently lost his three year old daughter, his lowly assistant manages to oust him from his position. He is utterly alone save for the imagined Miranda who still lives in his mind, with nothing but time to plot his revenge.
Eventually, Felix takes a job teaching theater at a nearby correctional institution, helping the prisoners learn the works of Shakespeare as they put on performances for the other prisoners, guards and invited guests. The performance that will be put on this year at the correctional institution, The Tempest, of course, will include a very directed interactive portion for the special invited guests that the former assistant who turned on him won’t see coming.
This book was fantastic! Having read THE TEMPEST earlier this year, the plays on the original play were a lot of fun. There are fun details like Felix requiring the prisoners to go through the play to pick out their favorite curse words and limiting all cursing to those Shakespearean terms throughout the course of the production. The prisoners and Felix break down the play to come up with their own interpretations of the text and the characters.
Whether you’ve read THE TEMPEST or not, this was a great retelling and I highly recommend you give this one a read!