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Macbeth: A Novel Paperback – May 22, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612183018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612183015
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #664,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Starred Review "Shakespeare’s Macbeth, with its bloody plot and characters, has inspired writers for years. Now Hartley and Hewson go a step further and adapt the play as a novel, in the process expanding its political background, making its language more accessible, and humanizing its characters. While both Macbeths profit from this approach, it’s Lady Macbeth, given the first name Skena, who is the primary beneficiary. Barren after the earlier death of their infant son, she presents her war-hero husband (with whom she has a deeply loving and passionate relationship) with political realities and then masterminds the assassination of Duncan, which leaves both Macbeths guilt-ridden. But Lady Macbeth has no role in the ensuing bloodshed. Macbeth’s longstanding friendship with Banquo also is fleshed out, and the appearance of Banquo’s ghost is rationally explained. The supernatural comes into play with the witches—here both cannibalistic and carnal—who make more frequent appearances but cast the same predictions; not all of the frequently quoted lines from the play appear here, however. This is an exceptional adaptation of a classic work of literature, a novelization that can add to the understanding and pleasure of the original to which it pays homage." — Michele Leber

About the Author

British-born author A. J. Hartley is the Russell Robinson Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and works as a scholar, screenwriter, dramaturg, and theater director. In addition to seven best-selling novels, he is the author of The Shakespearean Dramaturg; an upcoming performance history of Julius Caesar; a book on Shakespeare and political theatre; and numerous articles and book chapters. He also edits the performance journal, Shakespeare Bulletin, published by Johns Hopkins University Press. He is married with one son and lives in Charlotte.

David Hewson is the author of seventeen novels that have been published in twenty different languages. His first book, Semana Santa, was transformed into a movie, and his nine-book, Rome-based Nic Costa series is currently in development for television. Before devoting himself full-time to writing, he worked as a journalist for the London Times, the Sunday Times, and The Independent.

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Customer Reviews

Makes Shakespeare's story that much better.
R. Hatten
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, it added much depth and understanding to my comprehension of Macbeth.
Two kids mom
I would recommend this book to anyone that likes period pieces.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Janice on July 17, 2011
Format: Audible Audio Edition
This Audible offering takes the familiar story and turns it into a fully realized epic, placed in historical and political context. The writing is outstanding, so that I could envision the very landscape and scenery throughout all of the story locations. It is both an action story and a political and psychological thriller. The characters are fleshed out with complexity that prevents black and white "good guys vs bad guys" caracature. By filling in details of the political and cultural scene of 11th century Scotland, the authors allow us to have a better understanding of the motivations of all the characters, particularly why Macbeth decides to kill the king in the first place - going beyond the motivation of raw ambition. Lady Macbeth is much more complex than the ambitious behind-the-scenes manipulator that we are used to - and much more sympathetic. The presentation of the 3 witches is particularly facinating - no "double, double toil and trouble" - but very specific descriptions of their different personalities and their role in setting the action in motion.
A word about the reading by Alan Cumming - Superb! As a Scot, his voice lends welcome authenticity to the narration. He is a master at providing distinctive voices to all of the characters, and I was especially impressed with his ability to provide credible voices to the female characters - typically a difficult task for male readers.
I listened to the entire book in one day - unable to put it down. Whether you are an audio book fan or new to the medium, this is a wonderful piece of drama that should not be missed. I will look for more original titles from Audible if this is the standard of excellence that can be expected.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Scott Schiefelbein VINE VOICE on May 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
God bless Shakespeare - the man knew a great story when he saw one. His tragedy of the Scottish king Macbeth echoes across the ages, and not just because Shakespeare wrote some of the best lines in the English language. This bloody tale of greed and guilt ensnares you, never to let you go.

So why novelize one of the greatest plays ever written? Well, because reading a play can be a challenge, to put it bluntly - there's a reason that we attend plays and read novels. Authors A.J. Hartley and David Hewson are no hacks - they are skilled writers steeped in both Shakespeare and the available history - and they have written a powerful, sympathetic novel directly inspired by Shakespeare's story.

Both Macbeth and his wife - who's actually given a name! - come across as very understandable protagonists. Macbeth remains a mighty warrior, and is steadfastly loyal to the unworthy King Duncan. His friend Banquo is even stronger, but does not have Macbeth's wisdom or strength of character, or so he thinks. These two save Duncan's kingdom from treachery, but they learn that the treachery was not without justification. This plants a seed of doubt into their hearts about Duncan's worthiness to sit the throne of Scotland (and the Scots generally elected their king - not the foolishness of hereditary rule for them).

This doubt provides the fertile ground for the three witches, who emerge as much more fully-realized villains in this piece. These witches know that the greatest lies are twisted truths, and they dispense with enough half-wisdom to start a number of plots going. And while in the play they tend to get the ball rolling and let the Macbeths do the rest of the damage, here they pop up again and again, moving things forward as only witches can do.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This review is for the print version. This is a fantastic book that fleshes out the characters in Macbeth. What do I remember about Lady Macbeth from Shakespeare? A nutty women sleepwalking and murmuring "out, damned spot" (which always makes me think of stain removing products). In this novel, Lady Macbeth becomes a real person, with complex feelings, understandable guilt, a scheming mind and a justifiably tortured view of the world. Her maternal feelings are at constant war with her desire for her husband to assume power. The death of her own infant warps her, and then the death of a favored small boy begins unwinds her remaining sanity. The final blow is the realization that she has truly lost her husband, and much if it is her own fault. Her suicide, rather than being an afterthought, is the direct result of her own guilt and the indirect result of taunting by the three witches who push her mentally over the edge.

These witches are so much more in this novel. When I think of the witches from Shakespeare the line "Double, double toil and trouble" and a bunch of hags standing over a large black pot comes to mind. The three sisters in this novel are far more interesting, surreal and disturbing. Rather than bystanders delivering prophecies they attempt to influence the behavior of the characters (and in some cases succeed).

The Author's notes at the end of the book give some very interesting information about the play, Shakespeare's sources, the real Macbeth and an outline of how the novel differs from history.

I would suggest you read Shakespeare's version of Macbeth before you read this novel. Don't read this instead of Shakespeare's Macbeth for your English class, as it is not exactly the same story!
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