All’s Well- Mona Awad

I hope you’ve dusted off your Shakespeare, because you’re gonna need it. In Awad’s latest, Miranda Fitch works as a university theater director after an absurd stage accident ended her own acting career, leaving her with chronic pain. She feels stuck in her job and her life, hanging on to memories of her ex-husband & what might have been. This year might be different, she thinks, if only she can put on her dream presentation of Shakespeare’s All’s Well that Ends Well. However, the students and board members want to do Macbeth, so her dreams are dashed. She soldiers on against the constant and near-crippling pain and opposition.

Everything changes for her when, at a bar, she meets three weird gentlemen who offer her a solution in a golden drink. Amazingly, her pain recedes. Things begin to go her way. But in reality, a nightmare is unfolding around her, and it will only end on stage.

This is truly a Shakespearean fever-dream! Everything seems fairly normal and then slowly devolves until you’re not sure what is real and what isn’t. Awad has given us another story about female agency and the female voice. In this case, can anyone actually hear Miranda when she is voicing her own pain? How does a woman have to perform to finally be heard?

Awad tries to answer some of these questions with the most biting humor. While much of the subject matter is serious, the tone is often sarcastic and witty. While working your way through the hallucinatory sequences, you would be forgiven for getting mildly confused at times, but overall, this was a twisted and extremely enjoyable read! I give it a strong 4 stars.

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