by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)
Mona Awad's All's Well (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)
Today, I wanted to revisit Mona Awad's All's Well, a book I read for the Tournament of Books and which I absolutely loved.
Miranda Fitch is a theater professor who, after falling from the stage and being extremely injured, had to abandon her life as an actress to deal with her chronic pain. Miranda deals with skepticism from almost everyone—therapists, her friends, and even her ex-husband believe that she's exaggerating her condition. She's left with a profession she never would have chosen and a Shakespeare competition to manage.
She's chosen All's Well that Ends Well as the play this year, but one of her students—an entitled young woman whose parents help to fund the theater department and, therefore, think they can control things—hates the play and wants to do Macbeth instead. Everything in Miranda fights against this choice and this loss of control in the one realm of her life where she should feel in charge.
“How amazing would that be? Each of us flushed and grinning in the spinning dark of our own overturned world.”
And then things get weird. One evening, after a horrific meeting with the college's president and two other bigwigs, Miranda goes to a local bar and meets three very strange men (there's some gender-flipped inspiration her from Macbeth's three witches). Suddenly, Miranda's life starts changing. Her pain, for the first time in years, is waning, and those who refuse to believe her seem to face consequences for their skepticism. Her career takes a turn, and so does her love life.
I'll stop there, but I'll just say that this was such a perfect novel. Read on audio by Sophie Amoss, this is a fabulous listening experience, full of fantastic allusions to Shakespeare's plays but also deeply empathetic to Miranda's life and condition.
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