They’re all excellent novels – but I do think Hamnet should win the Women’s Prize for Fiction this evening. As a piece of fictionalised biography, this is such a moving and beautiful account of marriage, motherhood, and grief that it stands head and shoulders even above giants such as Mantel and Evaristo.
It’ll be fascinating to see how The Mirror and the Light fares – and whether Mantel is seen to deserve the prize (and The Booker) because of the sheer scale of the project. Both evoke rich historical details but Hamnet has a poetry to it that, I think, just pips Mantel’s novel to the post.
All these novels were fantastic reads (moments in Haynes’ A Thousand Ships have haunted me for the past few weeks) and serves to remind us that, in terms of reading at least, 2020 has been a vintage year…
Read my reviews of all six shortlisted books here:
Dominicana – Angie Cruz
Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo
Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell
The Mirror and the Light – Hilary Mantel
A Thousand Ships – Natalie Haynes
Weather – Jenny Offill