The Bard may very well be turning over in his grave ... or not. In this original re-imagining of Hamlet, instead of Denmark we are in a run-down London mansion and Trudy has betrayed her husband and is scheming with his brother Claude. And Hamlet? Offering a unique perspective on the world and events closer to home is Trudy's precocious unborn child, a narrator like no other.
Swathed in Shakespearean undertones and teeming with cultural references, this is an intriguing and clever literary romp that remains loyal to the murder and deceit at its heart. [Larger font]
Everyone loved the book! Generated a lot of enjoyable discussion.
Overall this book was not loved by the group. The characters were too unlikeable to care about. One member was motivated to read Hamlet again and another member loved the book and read it twice.
Very divisive - it provokes strong feelings. A few loved it. Most hated it. The characters are very unlikeable. But some of the group found it interesting, and from a new perspective. It gets a lot of conversation going.
We were like most of the other groups - most acknowledged that this is a very well written novel, but it is too contrived and clever for all but one of us. There was one member who was so annoyed by the premise of the foetus as narrator that she refused to read more. I guess most of our group look for more sincerity and fewer outrageous flights of fancy in their reading matter. I thought it was very clever, very funny, and enjoyed the Shakespearean and other literary references, but then - I was once an English teacher. I can see how a general reader might find the novel too clever by half.
Very quirky - not to everyone's taste but those who loved it, really LOVED it.
Funny, clever and original, group members loved this book. Ian McEwan packed so much into a short book that, as one member said, at times you had to pause just to take it all in. Telling the story from the point of view of the foetus could have stretched credibility too far, but with such a skillful writer you soon suspend disbelief and get drawn into the story.
We thought the book was skilfully written using the foetus as a narrator, but the storyline didn't grab our attention and it was only after reading the notes that any of us saw the Hamlet connection.
This book split the group. Some really liked it. Others disliked and never finished it. Interesting discussion.
We agreed that it was well written, and those who knew Hamlet well appreciated the link. But we felt it was too clever, a contrived plot, and had characters we did not like, except for the poet father.
The group was intrigued by the author's voice through the foetus (Hamlet). His insight and his observation of the machinations of Claude and Trudy is clever. His thoughts about all he senses and hears through the walls of his womb and the way that Shakespeare's Hamlet plot has been mirrored is ingenious, quirky and highly intelligent. Some found the willing suspension of disbelief hard at the start, but were soon drawn into the storyline.
Half the group loved it. The other half didn't like the basic premise and couldn't relate to it.
Four of our group really enjoyed the book - "best for a long time". An outrageous, very funny and sharp political satire on our times. Three enjoyed the clever parallels with Hamlet's father's murder by Claudius, his uncle and his infatuated mother. Clever, witty, profound, playful and entertaining. A few could not put it down. Some of the rest could not get into it. This book is the reason I'm in a book club - I'd never have chosen this book, but very glad I've read it!
"A very unusual story", was one comment made . It generated a lot of discussion.
We all agreed that this is a clever piece of writing. Ian McEwan's mastery of and economy with words is brilliant. However we were divided on the plot and characterisation, with half loving the story and half not enjoying it - with the comment that other McEwan works are more engaging.