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Postcard Eleven - Stratford-Upon-Avon

I arrived in Stratford-upon-Avon on Sunday evening, but did not want to be all stereotypical and read Shakespeare, so my book for this part of the work is Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet, which examines the tragic story of Shakespeare's only son. Shakespeare himself is, for once, not the central character in the story, he is alternatively 'the Father', 'the Husband' and 'the Latin tutor'. It is those around him who step forward into the spotlight and tell their own stories.

I am not a huge fan of O'Farrell's work on the whole, but I was drawn to this story because of its location but also because of its examination of characters who are rarely given more than a brief mention in biographies of the Bard and often only then in terms of how they relate to him. In this book, they are given centre stage and it is Shakespeare who is the supporting actor.

The different strands of the story are all told in the present tense, which brings a real sense of immediacy to the plot and her language is poetic and rhythmic and this combination brings the reader right into the heart of the action, complete with sounds and smells.

It also made me consider my own writing. The current WIP has three strands which need to have distinctive voices and I've been considering how best to achieve this. Having now listened to the first hour of Hamnet, I have realised that my initial idea of changing the POV and using a combination of 1st, 2nd and 3rd person POV might work, but I could also turn one section into a present tense piece. It's a thought to play with as I continue to walk through Warwickshire.

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