Recommended by Nick Barley, our Festival Director.
Edinburgh-based writer Maggie O'Farrell has produced her finest novel to date with Hamnet, and it turns out to be remarkably topical too.
Hamnet is set in Stratford in the late-16th century, at a time when bubonic plague is on the rise across England. The central character in the book, Hamnet, is one of Shakespeare's three children. His twin sister Julia has fallen ill and he is desperately trying to find his mother Agnes.
Alongside a story of sickness, it's a way of looking at Shakespeare's emerging success as a playwright and his guilt as an absent father. O'Farrell's exquisite depiction of motherly love and her ability to construct a compelling narrative are masterful in this short but deeply moving novel.