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Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

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By Margaret Atwood

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  • Longlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction **

Selected as a Book of the Year — Observer, Sunday Times, Times, Guardian, i magazine

`It’s got a thunderstorm in it. And revenge. Definitely revenge.’

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, revenge and second chances leads us on an interactive, illusion-ridden journey filled with new surprises and wonders of its own.


09 Apr 2017


This is a highly imaginative and beautifully written take on the original 'Tempest'. Betrayal and revenge are still the main themes within the book however the creative turn of setting the story within Felix (Prospero) being a wronged artistic director of a Canadian theatre festival stopped in his tracks from making his version of The Tempest. Thus, he plans his retribution by putting on 'his' Tempest by teaching acting in a correctional facility.

Atwood creates a play within a novel set on a play all mixed together with dry humour and gusto – making this a thrilling read.

I haven’t read The Tempest since my GCSEs and Hag-Seed gave reminded me of all the main plot points and characters in the original play but did it in a fresh way that gave me a deeper understanding of the characters.

Two elements that I particularly enjoyed were the prisoners/actors stating what they think would happen to their specific characters after the play and the interactions between the prisoners (they are only allowed to curse using Shakespearean insults which is pure genius).

I would highly recommend this fresh retelling.

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