“Mind-blowing. Equal parts brilliant and hilarious.” —Heather O’Neill, bestselling author of The Lonely Hearts Hotel and Lullabies for Little Criminals
From the critically acclaimed author of Bunny, a darkly funny novel about a theatre professor suffering chronic pain who, in the process of staging a troubled production of Shakespeare’s most maligned play, suddenly and miraculously recovers.
Miranda Fitch’s life is a waking nightmare. The accident that ended her burgeoning acting career left her with excruciating, chronic pain, a failed marriage, and a deepening dependence on painkillers. And now she’s on the verge of losing her job as a college theatre 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 hell-bent 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 via Twitter 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.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 105 members
If this isn’t the most deliciously dark read ever, I don’t know what is. Miranda has chronic pain as a result of falling off stage just when her career was about to take off. Now, she’s in her mid-thirties and is a theatre professor who can barely move without pain lighting fires throughout her body. To Miranda’s chagrin, everyone in her life is tired of her complaining about it and they keep telling her it must be in her head, that she’s being theatric about it. All the same, Miranda is about to start rehearsals for this year’s play, All’s Well That Ends Well by Shakespeare. One evening she goes to a dive bar and meets three men in suits who seem to know everything about her. They offer her a golden remedy with the promise that it will cure all of her ailments. And that’s how this darkly funny and bizarre tale unfurls from there. This story is told in its entirety from Miranda’s perspective and you really get insight into all of her anxious and depressed thoughts. She reminisces about the days when she was a stunning, able-bodied woman with an adoring husband. She covets the strong and lithe bodies of her students. She wants her old life back. The discussions on female pain and how able-bodied people, sometimes, perceive it were spot on. Also, the analysis on how disabled people are sometimes treated by able-bodied people was very realistic. Nerdy Latin Language Fact: The name Miranda is derived from the Latin ‘mirari’ and in this gerundive form means she who is to be admired, to be amazed at. I don’t know if the author specifically chose the name ‘Miranda’ for her main character with this in mind, but either way, it is genius and very fitting. Needless to say, I absolutely loved this one and can’t wait for more from the author. Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House Canada for the arc in exchange for my honest opinions.
I can properly describe all the things that this book makes me feel. This book is really a rollercoaster from start to finish and is written in a way that really makes you feel things. Margaret Atwood was right and she has good taste! I feel like you just need to experience this book because its so well written and the characters are just so great.
Wow! I enjoyed Mona Awad's Bunny, so I've had All's Well on my list of books I want to read since I heard it was coming out and this book definitely lived up to my expectations. The book focuses on Miranda Fitch, an actor forced into teaching after falling off the stage left her with chronic pain. I worried at the start of the book that Miranda's suffering, both physical and emotional, would end up tedious because I wasn't seeing much of Awad's biting wit, which is what I'd enjoyed in Bunny. I should have trusted Awad, though, and while I'm not sure this book has quite the teeth that Bunny did, the wit is certainly there, and I think overall that I enjoyed All's Well more. What I like most about All's Well is how Awad uses the theatre. Literally, the story centres around a college theatre production, but it seems that Awad uses the stage figuratively to explore issues like female power and aging. Miranda wants to stage All's Well That Ends Well, while her student cast would prefer to do MacBeth. It's been ages since I've read MacBeth, and I have never read All's Well That Ends Well, but it's clear that Awad alludes to these two texts, and it seems like she explores the contrast of Helena and Lady MacBeth to look at the roles women are afforded in society. I think more familiarity with the two plays would likely further enrich a reading of Awad's All's Well, but it is still an accessible and interesting read without that background knowledge. I've seen quotations from Margaret Atwood praising this book, and I feel like this book reminds me a bit of The Edible Woman. The stories are very different, but there is a similar feeling. Both books use illness to explore the female experience and use elements of the surreal in an otherwise realistic setting, and both are incisive and funny. Just as Atwood's writing feels smart, so too does Awad's. Overall, All's Well is a sharp and fun book that I would highly recommend. Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The perfect mix between horror and dark comedy, All's Well has a bit of a slow start but quickly becomes impossible to put down. Miranda Fitch is a domineering theatre professor whose acting days were cut short by injury. Determined to put on a production of All's Well that Ends Well – the very play that she was injured in – despite her students' insistence on performing Macbeth, Miranda attracts the attention of three shadowy, Shakespearean-witch-esque men that grant her the ability to transfer her pain to others. But in true Shakespearean witch fashion, supernatural gifts are not always what they seem. The farther Miranda pushes with the production, the more that euphoria and madness bleed together. Though the plot of All's Well is incredible, its insistence on putting you into Miranda's head is where it truly shines. From depression to being drunk on power, fear to bitterness, Awad does an excellent job of making Miranda's psychology haunting. Watching Miranda, particularly at her worst, is like watching a car crash: morbidly fascinating, impossible to look away. The ending of All's Well is by far the strongest I've read in a long time. I don't want to give any spoilers (everyone deserves to read it for themselves!), but Awad does an incredible job of interweaving magic and delusion, building tension that doesn't let up until the last page. If you find yourself discouraged by the novel's relatively slower start, press on. The ending is well worth it. As much as I absolutely loved this novel (you know a book is good when immediately after finishing an e-arc, you go to pre-order a physical copy), I do want to mention that although it's being marketed as a dark comedy and many parts are humorous, they predominantly come at the beginning. As the novel progresses the comedy slips away, replaced with horror and suspense. While I definitely enjoyed this shift, it is worth noting that the majority of the book is more horror than comedy. Many thanks to Penguin Random House Canada and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!