From the author of Bunny, which Margaret Atwood hails as “genius,” comes an exhilarating novel about a theater professor who is convinced staging Shakespeare’s most maligned play will remedy all that ails her—but at what cost? Miranda Fitch’s life is a waking nightmare. The accident that ended her burgeoning acting career left her with excruciating chronic back pain, a failed marriage, and a deepening dependence on painkillers. And now, she’s on the verge of losing her job as a college theater director. Determined to put on Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, the play that promised and cost her everything, she faces a mutinous cast hellbent on staging Macbeth instead. Miranda sees her chance at redemption slip through her fingers. That’s when she meets three strange benefactors who have an eerie knowledge of Miranda’s past and a tantalizing promise for her future: one where the show goes on, her rebellious students get what’s coming to them, and the invisible doubted pain that’s kept her from the spotlight is made known. All’s Well is a “fabulous novel” (Mary Karr) about a woman at her breaking point and a piercingly funny indictment of our collective refusal to witness and believe female pain.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
The plotting is a clever mishmash of Shakespeare, obviously MacBeth and All’s Well That Ends Well, though there’s a little Tempest thrown in as well. But Awad doesn’t make herself a slave to what Shakespeare dictates. She has entwined the Scottish play so brilliantly in a brutal theater production of All’s Well, that the power plays, the ghosts, the betrayals, the madness, are seamlessly incorporated, when they’re incorporated at all, because, in the end, this is pure Awad.
There is nothing Shakespearean about the finale. For a while there, authors were coming up with ways to update various Shakespeare plays through the Hogarth series. Margaret Atwood did a prison version of the Tempest. Tracy Chavelier did a playground Othello. Those were probably the two best, but there were many others. None were written with the sheer imagination and power of this. This feels like genuine inspiration, not a commission.
How Awad came up with all this is fascinating. Did she have the idea of updating MacBeth first, or All’s Well? Or maybe she just had an idea of a crazy theater production careening off the rails, and it all sprang from there? Maybe it began with some back pain one morning? It’s genuinely hard to tell. – Cleveland Public Library, USA