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The Folger Spotlight

Words, Words, Words: 'All's Well' by Mona Awad

The Folger’s virtual book club, Words, Words, Words continues on Monday, December 6 with a discussion of Mona Awad’s All’s Well. To get ready for the conversation, we’ve compiled some introductory information on this dark mash-up of Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well and Macbeth.

What is All’s Well about?

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.


Critical Reception

“. . .a nightmarish, hair-raising, diabolically smart treatise on pain — particularly as experienced by women . . . Awad’s writing isn’t merely intoxicating. It’s incandescent.” —The Washington Post

“. . .a surreal exploration of chronic pain, women’s believability and visibility, and desperation that straddles the line between comedy and horror.” —NPR

“A stealthily captivating new novel that, like its namesake, skews more dark than light as it casts its spell.”—The Boston Globe

Why did we pick this book?

The Folger Shakespeare Library’s collection explores not only Shakespeare’s life and works, but also the plays’ historical context, source material, critical and performance histories, and the ways in which they inspire and are adapted by contemporary novelists. All’s Well is a brand new novel deeply tied to multiple works and themes of Shakespeare.

Listen to the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast as author Mona Awad tells us about her new novel, which combines All’s Well That Ends Well with Macbeth to tell the darkly funny story of a university theater professor with chronic hip and back pain and a mutinous cast.

Content Transparency

This book contains instances of suicidal ideation.

About the author: Mona Awad

Mona Awad is the author of Bunny, named a Best Book of 2019 by TIME, Vogue, and the New York Public Library. It was a finalist for the New England Book Award and a Goodreads Choice Award. It is currently in development for film with Jenni Konner and New Regency Productions. Awad’s first novel, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and winner of the Colorado Book Award and the Amazon Canada First Novel Award. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, TIME, McSweeney’s, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She teaches fiction in the Creative Writing program at Syracuse University. Her new novel, All’s Well, has been named a best or most anticipated book of summer by Entertainment Weekly, O Magazine, Goodreads and many more.

Meet our Bookshop Partner: Old Town Books

For this session, we are excited to partner with Old Town Books, a general interest local bookshop in the heart of historic Old Town Alexandria. They are passionate about building bookish community through virtual book clubs and author events. Learn more at

Orders can be placed in store or online. Their location on S. Royal Street in Alexandria is open seven days a week from 10AM-7PM.

You can also download the audiobook version of this title from

Make a plan to join us on Monday, December 6 to discuss All’s Well. Visit our website to register and stay tuned for additional Folger resources to enrich the conversation.

We would like to thank the following organizations for their generous support of this program: