All's Well

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Pub Date 13 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 27 Jan 2022

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"A dazzling wild ride of a novel – daring, fresh, entertaining, and magical.  Mona Awad is a powerful and poetic storyteller, telling us something new and profound here about the connection between suffering and elation.  When I was away from this book, I longed to get back to it." — George Saunders, New York Times bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo

"Wild and exhilarating and so fresh it takes your breath away, All's Well is an utterly delicious novel of pain and vitality, Shakespeare and the uncanny, and our own subtle moral failures when we brush up against the pain of others. Mona Awad's talent is so vital that it absolutely roars out of her. "  Lauren Groff, New York Times bestselling author of Fates and Furies

"Tragic, macabre, and wicked. I laughed out loud the whole way through. One of the funniest books I’ve read in years." —  Heather O'Neill, author of The Lonely Hearts Hotel

"Really funny ... The satirical targets, all brilliantly hit, include useless physios, entitled students, internet advertising and for all you romantics out there love!" Wendy Holden in the Daily Mail 

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.

With prose Margaret Atwood has described as “no punches pulled, no hilarities dodged...genius,” Mona Awad has concocted her most potent, subversive novel yet. All’s Well is the story of a woman at her breaking point and a formidable, piercingly funny indictment of our collective refusal to witness and believe female pain.

"A dazzling wild ride of a novel – daring, fresh, entertaining, and magical. Mona Awad is a powerful and poetic storyteller, telling us something new and profound here about the connection between...

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Featured Reviews

Amidst all the many receptions and rewritings of Shakespeare plays, this is one of the most creative I've read as Awad takes inspiration from the problematic All's Well That Ends Well, mashes it up with Macbeth in particular with a smattering of other allusions including, importantly, Doctor Faustus but allows her own confection to take flight in an unashamedly modern and feminist direction.

Best of all, this starts in a realist style but soon veers off into the magical, surreal, multilayered and fantastical territory that the original plays made their own, with an overt theatricality that channels the spirit of All's Well without being in the slightest bit confined or constrained by that play's plot. An acquaintance with that play serves well to highlight the cleverness of this book, from the controversial and doubled figure of Helen[a], to the presence of a contemporary version of the 'bed trick', and the 'back from the dead' trope (also gesturing to Hermione from The Winter's Tale) gets an added resonance via its connection to healing on multiple levels.

Amidst the fun and mayhem, and the increasing psychological chaos, this also makes pointed comments about gender and gendered power, figured via the three male 'doctors' who replace the witches from Macbeth (and note the multiple uses of the word 'weird' around them, as well as the subtle way they reflects the three phases of the moon giving an association with Hecate, goddess of witchcraft, especially the one who is only ever seen as 'a sliver' to represent the new moon) - and who contrast with the doctors and other healers who refuse to listen to Miranda (NB. The Tempest) and her own assessments of her chronic pain and the treatments that might help.

Anyone who has read Awad's Bunny will already be familiar with the cool way she mixes up the kooky and the serious, and her unique vision and style - a tour de force that is clever, pointed, dark and grotesque in places, but which miraculously comes back to its starting point: all's well that ends well.

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I was completely caught up in this deliciously dark, perverse fairy tale with its marvellously-inventive angle on weighty issues. Mona Awad’s central character Miranda’s a former actress, whose fall from stage during a performance has left her with agonising, chronic pain. Her body’s been manipulated by sadistic physios and her symptoms dismissed by a succession of condescending doctors. She’s reduced to yet another, vulnerable female body presided over by misogynist men. Miranda’s clinging to her job in a small college, one of the only two tutors left in its dwindling theatre department. Now she’s struggling to stage a performance of Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well but students and staff seem intent on sabotaging her plans. However, an unexpected encounter with three uncanny figures may change Miranda’s fortunes.

Awad’s drawing on her own experiences here, in the aftermath of disastrous hip surgery. Her novel’s a convincing, blistering critique of women’s treatment by a male-dominated, medical industry - frequently infantilised, often disbelieved. Numerous, bleakly comic scenes depicting Miranda’s appointments with so-called health professionals will, I suspect, be all too familiar to many women readers. But despite the sense of verisimilitude, Awad jettisons conventional realist approaches, instead she offers up a near-mythic piece, replete with magical twists, bizarre reversals and moments of surreal fantasy. Miranda’s story’s interwoven with material from Shakespeare’s plays, from All’s Well That Ends Well to Macbeth, The Tempest and Hamlet, playing with their themes of dangerous desires, madness and witchcraft. There are some minor flaws, including occasional issues with pacing, but overall I thought this was a gripping, bravura performance, complex, intelligent, delightfully sinister.

Thanks to Netgalley UK and publisher Scribner UK for an arc

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As an English Literature student I am very aware of Shakespeares works and so I adored this lbook and its storyline that was entwined with shakespeare and had inspiration and material from his works all through this piece of literature. it was dark, raw and disturbing and I couldnt put it down. This is my first book by Mona Awad but I will definitely be looking for more now. I loved it and I loved her writing syle.

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“All’s Well” is an intriguing novel about Miranda, a theatre director in a New England college that suffers with excruciating chronic pain after falling off a stage while performing. She decides to direct Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well”, however her students aren’t thrilled with the choice. After a strange night at the local bar she frequents, her life drastically changes…

This novel by Mona Awad left me speechless and confused (definitely more than 🐰), and so much goes unanswered and left to the reader’s imagination: half of the time I was asking myself if Miranda was hallucinating or it in fact what I was reading was happening to her. At times I really would’ve loved to read another POV just to grasp what was actually happening, as it is a mystery to the reader. To trust an unreliable narrator or not to trust an unrealisable narrator?

I absolutely loved this novel, which did not disappoint, especially coming after a masterpiece such as “Bunny”! 💕

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