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This book is one of the Hogarth Shakespeare series – a set of modern retellings of some of Shakespeare’s plays, by various acclaimed authors. Hag-Seed is a modern re-telling of The Tempest, and in the capable hands of Margaret Atwood, it is a triumph.

Felix Phillips is artistic director at the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival, but is usurped by his traitorous assistant Tony, just as Felix is planning a staging of The Tempest. After hiding away and licking his wounds, Felix takes up a job teaching Shakespeare in a prison, and staging plays with the prisoners as the cast, but all the time he is plotting his revenge upon Tony and others who treated him unfairly.

It’s not necessary to know The Tempest to enjoy this book – you can definitely read it as a novel in its own right – but it is interesting to see how the two stories run parallel to each other. I actually think that if you were studying The Tempest, this book might help you understand it (because The Tempest is one of the most beautiful but also one of the most difficult to understand of Shakespeare’s plays in my very humble opinion).

As always with Atwood, the writing flows beautifully and there is dark humour sprinkled throughout. I loved reading about the prisoners and who taking part in the play came to mean so much to them. It’s a quick and fairly undemanding read, and I throughout enjoyed it.

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