Library Journal Review
In the fourth-and most entertaining-of the updated-by-famous-contemporary-authors "Hogarth Shakespeare" series, which also includes Jeannette Winterson's The Gap of Time, Howard Jacobson's Shylock Is My Name, and Anne Tyler's Vinegar Girl, The Tempest gets reset to an Ontario theater festival and a correctional facility. Atwood (Oryx and Crake) brilliantly transforms the Bard's tale of lost power and exile into a multimedia production of backstage intrigue and creative revenge. Felix (Prospero) is the lauded artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival (think Canada's famed Stratford Festival), but his blind trust in his partner Tony (Antonio) allows the "Machiavellian foot-licker" to usurp Felix's position. Banished from his dramatic kingdom, Felix retreats to a hovel where his dead daughter Miranda is his only (magical) company. He finally ventures out to teach literacy at a local prison, where surprisingly talented inmates will stage-via big-screen technical machinations-The Tempest. Convenient paths toward revenge and restoration are revealed. Narrator R.H. Thomson is perfectly cast, with his round Canadian vowels, infectious energy, and diverse vocal adaptations; he's even convincing as a beatbox rapper. VERDICT For the inventive cursing alone (17th-century vintage only), this Tempest should find favor with most literary audiences, including YA readers; AP English students might be especially grateful. ("The play's final rendering might be a bit over the top, but the narrative as a whole is so inventive, heartfelt, and swiftly rendered as to expunge any doubts. Highly recommended": LJ 9/1/16 starred review of the Hogarth hc.]-Terry Hong, Smithsonian -BookDragon, Washington, DC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
In The Tempest, Prospero is not just exiled king, magician, and father, he's an impresario staging multiple shows: the storm that strands his enemies on the island; his pretended disdain for Ferdinand, whom he intends for his daughter, Miranda; the play within the play; and, some critics argue, the play itself. In this, the fourth Hogarth Shakespeare adaptation, Atwood underscores these elements by making her Prospero a prominent theater festival director. After being done out of his job by a scheming underling, Felix goes off-grid, teaching literacy and theater to prisoners and grieving a lost daughter. When he learns that the man who took his job, now a political bigwig, will attend the next production, he sees his chance: in this Tempest, it won't just be Prospero who gets revenge. Former diva Felix is a sly and inventive director and teacher who listens to his cast's input, and his efforts to shape the play and his plot make for compelling reading. If, at the end, things tie up a little too neatly, the same might be said of the original, and Atwood's canny remix offers multiple pleasures: seeing the inmates' takes on their characters, watching Felix make use of the limited resources the prison affords (legal and less so), and marveling at the ways she changes, updates, and parallels the play's magic, grief, vengeance, and showmanship. 125,000-copy announced first printing. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
Atwood (The Heart Goes Last, 2015) presents a bravura hall-of-mirrors contribution to the delectable Hogarth Shakespeare project in which novelists reimagine Shakespeare's plays. Felix, the famously over-the-top artistic director of a prestigious Canadian theater festival, is forced out by his conspiring assistant just as he's about to produce The Tempest, which he hoped would help him endure his grief over the death of his young daughter, Miranda. Instead this would-be Prospero exiles himself in the countryside in a veritable hovel for 12 lunatic years, sustained by an avidly imagined spirit daughter and dreams of revenge. A teaching position at a prison breaks the spell. As he channels his theatrical genius into inspiring inmates to create wily, streetwise versions of Shakespeare, he slowly steers them toward The Tempest as part of an audacious plan to finally secure his own personal justice. Atwood positively frolics in this rambunctiously plotted and detailed enactment of how relevant Shakespeare can be for a talented troupe behind bars. Supremely sagacious, funny, compassionate, and caustic, Atwood presents a reverberating play-within-a-play within a novel.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2016 Booklist